Samuel L. Jackson is the hitman and Ryan Reynolds is his bodyguard. If you've seen any of the promotional materials for this film or are aware of these two actors' public personas, this is one of the most straight forward releases of 2017. The poster, title, and cast tells you exactly what you're going to get from this movie. If you're a fan of these two actors and have a fondness for 1980's and 90's action flicks, you'll probably have a good time watching 'The Hitman's Bodyguard.'
Substitute any number of films that have executed this familiar premise better- from 'Midnight Run' to '48 Hours'- it's a tried and true formula that never seems to go out of style. Two guys who don't like each other have to learn to work together while solving some sort of mystery or arriving at some important destination while a ticking clock keeps the audience invested. Ryan Reynolds is the sarcastic, deadpan bodyguard forced to protect Samuel L. Jackson's vulgar and violent hitman on their mission to get Jackson safely to the International Court of Justice in time to testify against a ruthless dictator played by Gary Oldman.
Both actors play essentially themselves- or the character you've seen both of them play dozens of times before. But that's what you're paying for when you buy a ticket to 'The Hitman's Bodyguard.' As expected, these two guys play off each other fantastically. While their jokes don't always land and a lot of their dialogue is clichéd and unoriginal, their chemistry and energy make up for a lot of the issues I had with the movie.
Whenever Jackson and Reynolds are on screen, it's an entertaining time for the most part. However the film is also dedicated to many side plots involving other secret agents and the villain's storyline seems as if it's from a different, darker movie all together. At two hours long, 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' could have been at least twenty minutes shorter. With tighter writing and editing, a less convoluted script, and more screen time devoted to the two main characters, this could have been a subversive throwback to the action heydays of the 80's and 90's.
The film is just as cliched as the movies it's trying to emulate. But for me, that was also part of its charm. 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' isn't trying to be anything other than what the title and poster suggests. It's Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson at their most Reynolds and Jackson doing their best with a so-so script.
The action scenes are well-choreographed and competently shot- although there is a heavy reliance on green screen in some sequences. Salma Hayek is also a welcomed addition to the cast as Jackson's bad-tempered wife. The cast appears to be having fun here and their energy is infectious and entertaining.
Twenty or thirty years ago, they made movies like this all the time. While this has been modernized to appeal to the audiences of today, meaning there's a whole lot of profanity, recognizable music, and popular stars in there, 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' isn't really any better than the movies it's imitating. But if you like these types of movies and these two actors specifically, I say you don't have to rush out to see it but it's definitely worth a rental or a matinee viewing on a rainy afternoon. I give it a B-.