The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an unusual beast. From the trailers it looked like another buddy comedy, and in many ways it was. One thing that stands out in The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the hitman, Darius Kincaid played by Samuel L Jackson. He’s unlike any trained killer we’ve seen on screen before, as he laughs, loves and cries. His conscience is clear as he’s convinced himself that he’s only killing bad guys, so his 250+ hit count is justified. He’s not the greatest comedic character ever written but he’s a lot of fun to follow around.
Centering around the trial of a brutal dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), the film focuses on Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and Kincaid’s journey from Coventry, England to De Hague, Netherlands where the trial is. Dukhovich has moles in Interpol so the first part of Kincaid’s journey is interrupted by mercenaries and he is almost killed in the process. Agent Roussell (Elodié Yung), an Interpol agent then gets Kincaid to a safe house where she enlists the help of her old flame Michael Bryce to get Kincaid to the International Criminal Court.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard starts and ends with the chemistry of the two leads. Without them this movie would’ve likely been a total bust. Jackson and Reynolds play off each other wonderfully. Being the two craziest actors out there today it seemed likely that they would but it’s still worth noting. This film creates a lot of scenes for them to work their magic and they did. Michael takes himself so serious wanting that elusive AAA rated protection agent while Kincaid just doesn’t care at all. Maybe it’s because he is unkillable (something that is pointed out several times in the movie). It could also be that he just doesn’t care if he lives or dies but that’s never elaborated upon.
Another huge win in terms of the film was Salma Hayek. She was absolutely hilarious as Kincaid’s Mexican wife Sonia, who might be more deadly than he is. She steals every scene she’s in and one scene that takes place in a bar will specifically make you laugh out loud. That leads us to the disappointing part of the cast which is very surprisingly Gary Oldman. Anyone could’ve been Dukhovic and it’s sad to see such an underwritten part handed to a genius. He doesn’t even scare you as his men shoot like stormtroopers (Kincaid and Bryce should have died within the first 30 minutes) and he just sits there and talks in a mildly Russian accent.
Without the main cast this movie would have failed. The story was mildly interesting and the screenplay was sub-par at best. A lot of the character development went unexplained as if it was of no importance to the writers or the director. After seeing some amazing action scenes this year in John Wick: Chapter Two and Atomic Blonde it was saddening to also see no effort from director Patrick Hughes in making some great action set pieces. It was a lot of Call of Duty-esque point and shoot. Maybe we’ve been spoiled for choice this year but you hope to see a little more than the bare minimum.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard excels on the chemistry of its lead cast, notably Jackson, Reynolds and Hayek. There are plenty of laugh out loud moments that make up for the lack of spectacle. I’ve come to expect more intellectual stimulation in action movies as of late. But there’s no denying it’s one of the better mainstream comedies of the year.