VOD film review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard
James R | On 22, Nov 2017
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek
Where to watch The Hitman’s Bodyguard online in the UK: Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / CHILI
“Who is more wicked, he who kills evil people or he who protects them?” That’s Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, an action comedy that sees Darius, an assassin, paired up with bodyguard-for-hire Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). The ensuing partnership makes for a promising odd couple, one of them happy to dispatch enemies in the blink of an eye, the other eager to keep things as calm and safe as possible, but that throwaway joke from Darius is as deep as this blockbuster gets – it’s happy, instead, to rely on its central duo’s chemistry.
Fortunately, Reynolds and Jackson have good enough chemistry for the film to get away with it. Reynolds is wonderfully suited to his cautious, would-be hero, able to pull off the snazzy-suited, sneering confidence while undermining it with vulnerability after he’s dismayed by a client dying under his protection. And so he has little choice but to accept a job from Interpol to escort Darius to the Hague, where he will testify against a dictator (Gary Oldman) – but only on the condition that Michael helps spring Darius’ wife, Sonia (Salma Haye), from prison.
That might sound complicated, but it’s little more than a string of excuses for escalating set pieces, intercut with shouting matches between Reynolds and Jackson. The latter is evidently having a good time as Darius, a ruthless son-of-a-gun who doesn’t miss an opportunity to laugh at Michael. It’s no coincidence that the film underwent rewrites before filming to turn it from a serious thriller into one with a sense of humour.
Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) daisy-chains enough explosions and absurd stunts together to keep the two-hour running time from feeling too bloated – while also giving Reynolds and Jackson enough space to make their bickering and mutual life advice-giving worth tuning in for, regardless of the convoluted final act involving Oldman’s cardboard cut-out villain.
It’s a shame, then, that Darius and Sonia’s own chemistry doesn’t get more of a chance to be developed, as Hayek feels wasted in the two-dimensional, stereotypical role of a fiery woman who’s objectified by everyone around her. Nonetheless, from Reynolds’ fast-talking shtick to Jackson’s knowing send-up of his own potty-mouthed persona, The Hitman’s Bodyguard finds its mark enough times to make this piece of shallow spectacle a hit more than a miss.