Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds make a potent team in this sophomoric but addictive romp.
If you think about any one element in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” long enough your head might hurt.
Here’s a pro tip: Don’t. You’re welcome.
This is pure summertime entertainment, sparked by a well-cast duo, snappy banter and blistering action set to ’50s rock.
Complain too much and you’ll miss the joys of low-grade escapism.
Veteran hit man Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) has the goods on an Eastern European despot, a generic villain few could make matter.
Send out the Bat signal for Gary Oldman!
Darius’s testimony could send Oldman’s character away for a very long time. That’s assuming he lives long enough to testify. This despot has a veritable army at his disposal.
A knotty series of events connects Darius to disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). An old flame coaxes Michael to shadow Darius until he can safely arrive at The Hague for the trial.
Time is running out. Thugs keep getting between Darius and his appointment. Meanwhile Darius and Michael carry on as if they just watched the whole “Lethal Weapon” franchise the night before.
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The two bicker, swap insults and agree only to disagree … about everything. But you know what happens next, down to the last beat.
That predictable arc doesn’t ding “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” It’s like complaining that the leads in a fluffy rom-com end up at the altar.
The bigger question?
Does this duo flash comic chemistry, and does the script throw them any life lines? Yes and yes.
FAST FACT: Samuel L. Jackson signed on for the 2006 thriller “Snakes on a Plane” based on … the title. “The title just puts it all right out there. You either get it or you don’t.”
Reynolds engages his wisecracking default mode, a variation on his “Deadpool” persona. He spikes it with a weariness that offers a flash of grit. He’s not surly, just burdened by a tattered reputation and a failed romance.
Jackson is … Jackson, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. He mugs, grins and sings. His character also dislodges the stick wedged way up Michael’s rump.
Does that even need a spoiler alert?
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is no one’s idea of an expertly executed yarn. The plot holes get bigger and badder as the story rolls along. The happy chatter often clashes with the death and destruction leaking out of most scenes.
And would a hit man really be the most reliable witness in a trial of this magnitude?
Salma Hayek isn’t nearly as fun as convincing as the film’s leads playing Darius’ estranged love interest. And Elodie Yung’s role as the girl who got away from Michael is hopelessly generic. The “Daredevil” actress deserves better.
And does a movie like this really need to push the two-hour mark?
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is Mismatched Buddy Movie 101. The formula may be graying, but the film reminds us the template isn’t ready for retirement yet.
HiT or Miss: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is pure low expectation theater. Give in to its simple charms, though, and you won’t regret it.