The marketing campaign for “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” began this spring with a teaser trailer featuring over-the-top clips of stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson – to the tune of Whitney Houston’s iconic version of “I Will Always Love You” from the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard”. A cheesy spoof poster was also released. It wasn’t tough to conclude that this film was destined to be an end of the summer disaster.
These two have their own, distinct comedic styles. Reynolds has become the king of snarky wisecracks. Jackson more often resorts to spewing F-bombs and other colorful phrases to generate laughs. Well, they both stay true to form here, directing their verbal assaults, primarily at each other, for the nearly two hour length of this oh-so-by-the-book action bomb-com.
If you’re into mindless dialogue, senseless chase scenes and a pointless plot, then “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” provides a kind of carefree, nothing to lose [or gain] escapism. As someone who’s witnessed this same shtick from these two leads for far too long, I found it to be exactly what I expected: uninspired and tiresome.
Reynolds plays Michael Bryce. He was once a AAA-rated security agent. But when one of his clients is assassinated under his watch, Bryce’s career and personal life also take a big hit. A few years later, he’s recruited by a special agent ex-girlfriend to accompany notorious hitman and current federal prisoner Darius Kincaid (Jackson), from England to the Netherlands to testify at the International Court of Justice trial of a ruthless Eastern European dictator (played by Gary Oldman, continuing his run of one-note, maniacal villain roles).
Problem is – Bryce and Kincaid have a professional history together – and it’s not a good one. So they’re at each other’s throats from the moment they meet. But they’ve got to find a way to work together to stay alive and complete the trip.
Oh, and they both also have romantic problems. Bryce still has feelings for his ex, while Kincaid desperately misses his wife (played by Salma Hayek). She’s being held in a different prison.
This is a hard R-rated action film with a very high body count. Close to a hundred characters are killed in every possible way. There are multiple shootings, stabbings, stranglings, explosions, throat slicings, car crashes, helicopter crashes – and one character gets pushed off a 10-story building.
There are at least a half-dozen lengthy chase sequences. Only one of them actually works. A scene in Amsterdam involving Kincaid in a speedboat and Bryce on a motorcycle on the run from the bad guys is surprisingly well-staged and shot.
Best of all, that scene includes no dialogue, a welcome break from all the profanity-laced chatter that dominates “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”. This film ranks up there with “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Free Fire” for frequency of the F-word. And 99% of the time, it’s simply used to try to get a shock laugh out of the audience. At one point Bryce says Kincaid “singled-handedly ruined the word motherf***er. And that’s hard to do.”
Jackson is also featured on the soundtrack. He wrote and performs the ballad “Nobody Gets Out Alive”, which appears twice, including a full version during the closing credits. It’s his best work in the film. Reynolds actually sings in a scene midway through the movie. He’s terrible, but at least he’s not talking.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” gets a D.
Running Time: 118 min.