A Mouthful of Mediocrity
Elite bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) does what he loves for a lucrative price and gets to come home to a beautiful girlfriend, but Michael loses it when a job goes south. Two years later, he struggles to get his elite status back as a single man. Ex-girlfriend and Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Daredevil’s Elodie Yung) brings Michael in to assist protecting an agent who needs to be transported from the United Kingdom to the International Court of Justice in Hague, Netherlands in order to testify against a sadistic Eastern European dictator named Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). But Amelia fails to mention her client is Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson); a well-known hitman who has crossed paths with Michael on more than one occasion. Now Michael has to escort a man he despises in order to have a last ditch effort at once again achieving the elite status he holds so dear.
Directed by Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3), The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like it’s a part of some unofficial “unwanted pairing” trilogy along with The Last Boy Scout and Bulletproof. While the nonstop barrage of explosions and car chases will remind you that this is an action film, the comedy is a barrage of a different kind; constant complaining between two supposedly different people who are actually just playing the same character. While Darius gets the most time devoted to his backstory, both Darius and Michael suffer from being whiny motor mouths attempting to out-whimper one another in a pissing contest that grows stale within the first five minutes of the film. Even Amelia slides into the same category in the second half as blind rage seems to be the main ingredient in lame character building.
It could have just been the specific screening that was attended or a fault on the hands of the theater, but The Hitman’s Bodyguard is completely incapable of proper sound control. The soundtrack to the film was blaring through the speakers while the dialogue was practically a whisper and drowned out every time another song picked up momentum. This is an action film, so there’s a ton of exciting ground to cover and plenty of chances for loud rock music to be played. No matter how much you enjoy something, if it’s too loud then it instantly becomes irritable especially if it’s washing out the story.
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This film was a cushy gig for Gary Oldman since all he had to do was eat a plate of food, yell for a few minutes straight, and walk around in a long black coat. Salma Hayek is really milking it in her performance in this. Hayek was so promising in Beatriz at Dinner from earlier this year, but it seems like all of the bad acting she was attempting to keep hidden in that film simply gushed from every over acted mannerism and dribbled from her lips whenever she painfully screeched an insult.
Many will probably think The Hitman’s Bodyguard is hilarious. A few critics were saying the film is, “like Deadpool without the mask.” Deadpool followed the story of one twisted character whose insanity factored into his terminal condition and inevitable super power. The problem with The Hitman’s Bodyguard is it can’t decide who the better of the two men is. It even devotes the point of one of their conversations of them being unable to decipher who is the good guy and who is the villain. They both kill people or “protect a client” as Michael puts it. They’re two guys who are similar despite their jobs being done for different reasons; one protects for money while the other kills for money. These are contracted killers who become acquaintances based on the fact that they realize that they have a lot in common. Unfortunately it’s a cinematic duo we seem to see every summer and it is tiresome because of how cookie cutter it feels.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard tries so hard to be Lethal Weapon for a new millennium, but its repetitive humor and its ADD infested explosion fetish leaves the film feeling stagnant and absent-minded. This is an action comedy trying with all of its cars-smelling-like-anus-might to be a Shane Black film and it just isn’t. If you like high-speed action loaded with bloody violence and mixed with trash talking comedy in an R-rated package that basically kicks censorship square in the nuts, then The Hitman’s Bodyguard is well-worth checking out. But if you’re at all familiar with the genre and desire substance over formulaic crowd-pleasing nonsense, then The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a gratuitous, loose lipped, and unimpressive failure.
© 2017 Chris Sawin