Director: Patrick Hughes
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung and Salma Hayek
Running Time: 1 Hr, 58 Mins
My favourite comedy of 2016 was Central Intelligence starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. The key to that movie’s appeal wasn’t the story or the jokes or the direction, rather it was the chemistry between Hart and Johnson (which is why I may be the only person on the planet looking forward to Jumanji next December). You could tell each guy was having fun shooting that movie and probably had a blast off camera as well.
And that’s why the Hitman’s Bodyguard succeeds as well.
Formerly the world’s top professional bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) has fallen on hard times since a client was gunned down while under his protection. Years later he’s contacted by former girlfriend Amelia Russell (Elodie Yung), an Interpol agent charged with getting world renown assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the Hague where he can testify against the brutal and homicidal dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman).
Unfortunately, Dukhovich has already infiltrated Interpol and has an army of mercenaries between Kincaid and the courtroom. Using Bryce is Russell’s Hail Mary pass, but complicating matters further is Bryce and Kincaid’s considerable history and the ocean of bad blood between them. Not only are the men complete professional opposites, they’re emotional ones as well. Bryce is a planaholic who has backup plans for his backup plans while Kincaid is a fly by the seat of your pants type, making everything up as he goes along.
Like Central Intelligence, The Hitman’s Bodyguard succeeds because of the chemistry between the two leads. Jackson and Reynolds share a great on screen relationship, with each offering the other a perfect foil. The two invest more than enough into their respective roles, granting them a genuine presence. The movie is often at its best when sparks (and punches) are flying between the two. Their exchanges range from fistfights to shouting matches (Jackson’s forte) to dry, sarcastic barbs (Reynolds specialty), affording their relationship even more dimensions. There’s even a round or two of genuine philosophy and moral examination.
Jackson and Reynolds aren’t the only ones who earn their paycheques. Gary Oldman sinks his teeth deep into the psychotic Dukhovich, bringing a taste of genuine menace to the action comedy. Elodie Yung invokes some of her Elektra muscles as Interpol agent and Bryce love interest Amelia Russell. No one’s probably going to remember Yung, but she didn’t weigh any of her scenes down either. But if you want to talk about memorable, Salma Hayek steals every scene she’s in and proves she still has plenty of sexy, violently scary mettle left in the tank.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t an Oscar winner but it is a nice little action comedy in a summer full of underwhelming offerings. It brings plenty of laughs and delivers some decent action along the way. Not only do the leads feed off each other, but they also look like they had a good time along the way. While this definitely isn’t a flick for the kids (the language is anything but SFW), this is a movie that you’ll enjoy watching probably as much as the actors enjoyed making it.