Though what has been advertised in an action comedy, what The Hitman’s Bodyguard truly is – is a love story.
For years, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) was one of the top defenders of the world’s biggest scumbags. However, with the death of one client, his world comes crashing down. Fast forward two years later and one of the top men in the business is now protecting white collar criminals and seemingly living in his car. However, an old flame, who he blames for his downfall, Amelia (Elodie Yung) calls him up one day demanding a favor. One in which Michael will escort professional assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) across Europe to testify against former Belarus president Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman).
Which, considering the more than 20 times Darius has tried to kill Michael, what could go wrong?
The Violence and Gore
In a lesser extent than Atomic Blonde, but still quite noteworthy, this is the type of film which will have you flinch. Be it Darius digging out a bullet from his leg, the moment he fell in love with his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek), after she slit a man’s throat with a beer bottle or the occasional blood squirt. There is enough violence for those who enjoy that sort of thing to get their kicks. It doesn’t go as far as you would expect, but that’s because it has multiple selling points to focus on.
A Love Story
Strangely, there is almost a stronger focus on the love lives of Michael and Darius than there is making Vladislav out to be a villain. For most of the movie, if Darius isn’t talking about his love for Sonia, and her talking about how her husband is like a cockroach, Darius is trying to get Michael and Amelia back together. Even during a car chase, it isn’t so much about these Belarus operatives trying to kill Darius as it is about the absurdity that this man who barely knows Michael is trying to act as a wingman.
Add on that for both men they met and fell in love with these two women in the oddest ways, and you get the kind of love story which doesn’t make you go “Aw!” But more so, “What the F***?” Especially since there isn’t really chemistry between the male leads and their partners.
Learning Darius’ Past
Though only a short part of the movie, we are given insight into how Darius became a 250+ killing assassin. Which, with the way it is presented, there are times you may wish that was the movie you were watching. For between what happened to Darius’ father, his upbringing, and just trying to understand how he became such a legend, there is this vibe that is the movie Samuel L. Jackson should have been in. Something in which, yeah, they still could have had this be a comedy, but given it something real, something which pushes the actors to do more than set up laughs and pretend they make compelling romantic leads for anybody.
On The Fence
Gary Oldman Seems Out of Place
Oldman as President Dukhovich seems like he belongs in a movie you take seriously. He is playing a war criminal and isn’t something similar to Laurence Fishbourne in Ride Along. There is no adaptation of his style so he can fit into this world. Granted, he makes a believable leader of a violent and rogue government. But there is this vibe that either the story wasn’t elevated to his talent or he was over doing it in the handful of scenes we actually see him in.
The Styles of Reynolds and Jackson Clash and Compete
With Reynolds comedic style, which has the sarcasm which made him perfect for Deadpool combined with Jackson’s tired of the bull**** style, their scenes are like a dance. One in which they constantly switch who is lead and try to outdo each other. A competition made solely for your benefits as they do their best to piss each other off and maybe even lighten the mood.
However, I won’t say they are so funny you’ll be laughing out loud. If you have grown familiar with both actors, it is like you are watching a film of them recycling material that didn’t make it into their past productions. Meaning, a lot of the jokes you hear out of Reynolds’ mouth sound like stuff left over from Deadpool and as for Jackson? Well, such a comparison can’t be as easily made but for both, you can tell these characters were curated for them so they wouldn’t have to push themselves too hard.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive)
Is The Hitman’s Bodyguard funny? Yeah. Does it contain quality action? Yes, it does. However, neither Reynolds nor Jackson are pushing themselves here. They are essentially playing the same characters we nearly always see them as. Which was fine until the film tries to add on a love story to this in which neither relationship seems cute or comical due to its absurdity.
However, what really leaves me mixed about whether you should see this is because the villain of the movie becomes a bit of an afterthought. Gary Oldman approaches Vladislav as if he isn’t in an action/comedy but a drama. So there comes multiple points in the film, after Darius tries to give love advice, we learn of Darius’ past, we hear Michael whine about how Amelia ruined his life, and then him trying to reconnect with her, that you forget this movie is essentially about Darius testifying against Vladislav in an international courtroom.
Which, if I may say, doesn’t lead to some grand showdown or payoff. There is just more of the what we watched for the entire movie but now Oldman is involved.