Review: From the director of Expendables 3, Patrick Hughes, a same-old brand new breed of hard-boiled action comes in the shape of The Hitman’s Bodyguard. With classic B-movie influence and dirty chemistry between the leads—Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, this electric summer bonanza stands erect between being exhilarating and annoying.
There’s a hitman, Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a key witness to the legal persecution of a former Belarus tyrant (Gary Oldman).There’s a former Triple-A level bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Reynolds). There’s a past beef between the two. Yet, there’s a mutual purpose between them: to get Kincaid safe from England to Netherland. There’s common enemy: the Belarus mercenary, which infects Interpol.
There’s shade of Lethal Weapon here and there (despite different nature of the leads, Kincaid and Bryce are not in Riggs and Murtaugh’s bromance). There’s playful reference on Kevin Costner’s Bodyguard (despite the different nature of the leads, Jackson is no Whitney Houston for good). There’s mirroring elements to Pulp Fiction at some level (especially in Jackson’s nature as a philosophical guy, with love as the center). Sure thing is, there are shitloads of dirty words at every corner coming from two foul-mouthed non-gentlemen yelling at each other (plus those coming from Salma Hayek’s super salty character, Mrs. Kincaid).
As an action film, action sequences in Hitman’s Bodyguard are surprisingly generic, although the film is in full-willingness mode to get dirty with blood-splattering R-rated gonzo. Most of the works are marked with heavily-patched CGI and stuntman-laden set-pieces, especially within the Amsterdam tunnel’s hot pursuit. Even, at most points, the action sequences felt a little over-stretched without immediate effect to the storyline (or characterization—for tendency to overkill, for example). One thing for sure: the action is extremely, and uniformly, loud.
However loud the action is, words in Hitman’s Bodyguard surprisingly speak louder than everything else. Kincaid and Bryce, who technically are rival/nemesis, are bonding by exchanging bantz and mockeries loudly. At one moment, Kincaid intentionally attempts to annoy Bryce by singing in deep, disturbing falsetto, only to be joined by the latter creating a discord. That’s basically how the chemistry works: one party inflicts a trouble, the other jumps in, and they ends up getting in trouble together.
Kincaid and Bryce give an impression as if the characters are written specifically to Jackson and Reynolds. No doubt that Kincaid is an amalgam of several Jackson’s most infamous characters injected with excessive loads of ‘motherfuckers’ which will make your ears itchy. Meanwhile, Bryce is the essence of Reynolds’ pretty, naughty boy in self-made trouble. And how they create such an atomic, over-the-top chemistry is a positive energy to the film (although the energy is channeled into some disturbance).
The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) – Samuel L. Jackson & Ryan Reynolds | Image via IMDb
With better conflict development, neater conflicts and sub-conflicts presentation as well as more compact action sequence, The Hitman’s Bodyguard will make a much better hard-boiled action to join the rank of the 80s and 90s classic. Yet, with its convoluted and over-stretched manifestation, the film will only end up in the rank of summer’s most electric entry to only lend the leads’ chemistry to stay longer in your mind.