Movie review: ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ a perfect late summer buddy film
-Once you get to a certain point August you know that the summer season, for all intents and purposes, the great films have gone. We hit that point realistically a couple weeks ago. And from now until about the beginning of October, we hit a slow period where the Box Office amounts decline in proportion to the quality of the films.
Which doesn’t mean there’s nothing to get excited about. Even in the slowest period there’s diamonds in the rough. Or, at the very least, there’s films that entertain. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” fits that mold perfectly.
Featuring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles, it isn’t a deep or complex movie. But it’s got a decent story, good performances, some strong character building, solid action sequences and plenty of laughs. At the end of a long week in the dog days of summer, what more could you really need?
The film centers on Michael Bryce (Reynolds), a AAA rated protection agent who’s nearly flawless in his professional life. That is until a client is killed and his rating and career plummet. Worse yet, Michael blames his girlfriend, Amelia (Elodie Yung), an Interpol Agent, for the leak that caused the incident.
A few years later, Michael is still working in protection, but the sheen is off his process. And he’s still trying to re-build his rating. When he gets a call from Amelia demanding his professional services, he grudgingly accepts.
What he discovers is famed hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), who made a deal with Interpol to testify in a War Crimes trial for an Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman) in exchange for his wife, Sonia (Selma Hayek), going free. Only a leak in Interpol led to a shootout where Amelia and Darius barely survived.
Michael is no stranger to Darius’ work, and in fact they are almost instantly at odds. But when Amelia offers to get his AAA rating back, Michael grudgingly accepts the assignment to get Darius safely to The Hague for the trial. But it ends up being more than either bargained for.
This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s a good thing. This isn’t really a complex plot, nor is it one that’s grounded in reality. Little touches like having the poster mirror that of the movie “The Bodyguard,” which starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, gets you in the right frame of mind.
And, of course, the film couldn’t have done any better than landing Jackson and Reynolds in the starring roles. Both are perfect for this kind of film, and both play off each other really well. Both are deft comedic performers who are also believable in action roles, which isn’t an easy thing to pull off. And that’s what really makes this film work.
The script from Tom O’Connor has some decent beats, and more complex character development than you’d expect from this kind of film. And director Patrick Hughes does a nice job with the action and story development. This film looks good, and it keeps the jokes and the action coming.
If I was to quibble about anything, I’d note that at nearly two hours, this movie feels a touch long, especially since you pretty much know where it’s going. The on-the-road sequence drags a few times, as does the climax. But it’s still an enjoyable late summer diversion.
And as a bonus, I really loved what Hayek did in a fairly small role, and the way she and Jackson played off one another. It was a little touch that made for a better overall viewing experience.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for strong violence and language throughout. Enter with caution.
Three stars out of four.
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