The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

“Why are we always yelling?

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is deafening, delirious, and a handful of dumb fun all at once. There’s really not much to the film to even assess from a critical point of view; it simply puts two marquee names and faces on its poster and allows their banter to do the talking. This isn’t a great film by any means, and it’s even a tad too distastefully snide, but it’s also well-made and constructed (although cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin annoyingly keeps the picture so over-exposed by outside light). I did not enjoy most of what The Hitman’s Bodyguard is built from, yet I couldn’t help but appreciate the skill and the time it takes to embody such a cruel reality. It’s dark and it’s dour, and I think it’ll make most folks laugh in the face of danger. Is it revolutionary? That’s an easy no. Is it funny? That’s a hard, confused yes.

Like most action films, The Hitman’s Bodyguard doesn’t really bear any sort of weight. It’s a tiny kidney stone that passes through with ease, its presence noticeable but never as painful as you’d anticipate. The stakes are huge and the drama is swift and the antics are rolled out as if they’re anticipating a conniption fit. So basically, this move is all over the place. There’s a corrupt Russian figurehead named Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Career criminal and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is needed to testify against the murderous Oligarch, indicting himself as guilty while securing the freedom of his lady Sonia (Salma Hayek). Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) can’t complete the mission, she reluctantly contacts her ex-lover and professional bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), and from there the story becomes a forced bromance laced with expletives and amplified anger, aspiring to the greatness of a film like Midnight Run without the patience to earn its merits.

Despite my mildly positive and tepid reaction to the film, I still couldn’t help but wonder what this movie would have been like had it just been able to shut up and acknowledge the power of silence and honest comedic timing. To not be so damn loud, to not yell at every twist and turn, and to have refined Jackon’s batshit performance into something the least bit plausible or palatable. The Hitman’s Bodyguard aspires to blend Lethal Weapon’s foul-mouthed expletives and buddy cop bonding with a hard R-rated angle, shouting out curse words, dipping into torture porn, and looking for laughs instead compassion. This is a stupid film that’s occasionally fun; you’ll likely either join in on the noise and clap along or shut it out altogether.

This movie, while mostly forgettable, isn’t an entirely bad one either. Toss out the ineffective hand to hand fight scenes – too often it uses rapid shot changes that render the moment incoherent instead of focusing on properly staging the combat – and director Patrick Hughes pulls off some breathtaking chase sequences. Most notable is the elaborate setup along the Amstel river. It tracks the action on bike, in cars, on foot, and even by boat. Pay attention to the beats of the timing, the choreography of massive groups of extras, how it creates visual rules and abides by them. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is as mean-spirited as it obsessed with love, never really successfully blending the two together into a cohesive tone while still dedicating itself to both sides. This could’ve been a franchise starter had the characters not been mere caricatures of the leading men’s on-camera personalities, but then again, at least it’s not a boring movie either.

“You’re good at keeping people alive.”

Rating: 3 out of 5

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