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[Movie Review] The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

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Plot Summary: The world's top bodyguard gets a new client, a hit man who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.

Director: Patrick Hughes

Writer: Tom O'Connor

Runtime: 1h 58min

Main Cast:
  • Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid
  • Eoldie Yung as Amelia Roussel
  • Gary Oldman as Vladislav Dukhovich

Review: by Mia

When you see a trailer for an action film where Samuel L. Jackson will play a gutsy assassin, Ryan Reynolds plays an anal Bodyguard, and a few hundred bullets play dangerous but really will probably only hit walls and innocent bystanders, what you'll expect is pretty straightforward: guns, explosions, laughter, and punchlines. You watch the trailer, you see these two amazingly funny actors coming together to take out their enemies, despite being enemies themselves. You also get a hint of Salma Hayek being the badass she always is on the sidelines in action packed movies that managed to cast her. What you don't get a taste of is what this movie is about. Clearly, it's about a hitman and a bodyguard, but who are they killing or running from? Where is the villain? What is the end goal for these two combat efficient nemeses? Are they teaming up by the end or facing off? You definitely go into the theater with a lot of questions and a lot of anticipation for how they will all be answered while the movie sets you up for laughs.

Here’s the rundown: A Hitman with a reputation for always getting the job done and usually doing so with suicidal flare has been apprehended. Although he is a master escape artist, capable of dodging a few hundred bullets and surviving to tell the tale, love is the weakness that ends up with him in the hands of Interpol. Lucky for him, there’s a bigger fish to catch that only he can help Interpol put down. Sociopath, Narcissist, and Nation Dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (played by the always impressive Gary Oldman), has been arrested for God-knows-what and is on trial for war crimes that no one can seem to find the evidence to prove he committed. Sure there are a dozen eye witness accounts of his murderous tendencies, most of which are heart-rending tales of cold punishment for disloyalty, but so what? Do they actually have the smoking gun? No? Next witness! Too bad any witness with any actually compelling information again Dukhovich can’t seem to make it to the trial alive. That alone should be hefty evidence towards his crimes, but no matter. Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) has the evidence this court, situated in the Netherlands, needs. Interpol just has to set his wife free and transport him from across Europe to the trial alive.
They don’t make it out of France. Bullets fly, Interpol agents and mercenaries turn city streets into a war zone, and Kincaid has to shoot his own way to safety if he expects to live. Lucky for him, his Interpol escort knows Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a down and out Executive Protection Agent whose recent fall from glory has left him hungry for his chance to earn his way back into the good graces of high tier clients. All it takes is a bit of blackmail and this reluctant bodyguard finds himself protecting an assassin who has tried to kill him when they crossed paths not once, not twice, but on twenty-eight separate occasions. Needless to say, the animosity is so thick in the room one could cut a knife…sort of.
The two men are killers and their combat skills are above par. They hash it out in an impressive fight before logic and necessity take over. They aren’t friends after, but they understand that they are on the same side for now. They travel across the country to sneak into Netherlands and to the trial. Every step of the way, they intercepted by rifle wielding interference. They risk their lives, take a few dozen more lives, and struggle to help take a dictator out of the picture for a suffering country. All of this occurs while the also find the time to exchange experiences in their personal lives. Michael Bryce is “emotionally retarded” and thoroughly sabotaging his own dream relationship while Kincaid has every hitman’s dream wife in his currently imprisoned Latinx bombshell Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek). Nonetheless, both men fight to get to the trial to please their lovers (Sonia will be freed if Darius Kincaid testifies and Michael Bryce is in love with the Interpol beauty who blackmailed him into this gig in the first place).

What I Liked:

As expected the chemistry between characters in this movie is spot on. These are two actors well-known for executing humor and absurdity within dialogue in a way that really connects with their audience. Samuel L. Jackson, true to his form, probably uses “Motherfucker” over a hundred times in this film. Ryan Reynolds isn’t shy to call him out for it every chance he gets. Samuel L. Jackson upholds most of the lightness within the comedy of this film, while Reynold’s humor is his usual tortured and sarcastic appeal. Together, the film is carried purely on the banter and wit between them. When they are off screen, Salma Hayek does her best to carry the film with her flare for snarky remarks and womanly intimidation. I like it. You are convinced she could have an assassin wrapped around her finger the way Kincaid clearly is. The romance between Reynolds character and Amelia Roussel (played by Elodie Yung), manages to show depth and pain and male stupidity without much air time at all. She too has this trained killer at the end of his rope to please her. They have pretty pure love stories to balance out all the blood and action within the film.
Speaking of, the fight choreography and action sequences in this film definitely will meet your expectations. The film trailers don’t give too much away or soak up all the best scenes within the 2-5 minute reel only to have them repeated in the 90+ minute film. First, we get to meet the characters, then we get to meet their skills, then we get to see them up against one another, and then we get to see them up against the world together. Every step of the way, the action is both intense and humorous. We even get to watch Salma Hayek and Elodie Yung get in on the action at different points in the story’s development.
What I liked most about the premise of this film is that the good guy is ambiguous. Both of our main characters can claim the role. Yes, one is a hitman, but he is for hire against the bad guys (the violent dictator, corrupt politician, or neighborhood sociopath). Who can hate a bodyguard who is a perfectionist about keeping those in danger in live? At the same time, they are both contract killers. Kincaid kills for money and retribution. Bryce kills to make sure the side that hired him wins and takes pride in being an efficient protector, even if he’s hired by a corrupt politician, sketchy drug addicted lawyers, or white collar criminals. Regardless of where each of these men got their licenses to kill from, it is up to them to work together against dozens of mercenaries all gunning for Kincaid’s head. They build a relationship where they respect and hate one another all at once. Its endearing, even if the plot seems addicted to jokes and humor. You want that humor from the film. It defines the most enjoyable parts.

What I Didn’t Like:

This film is painfully predictable. They set you up with the plot, point out all the characters to pay attention to, and set the ball rolling. Don’t worry about figuring out a mystery! We’ve got a few dozen jokes to keep you attentive and a well-timed explosion if that doesn’t hook you. The jokes are great, the absurdity is spot on, and the romance is needed to humanize the characters as they fight their way across Europe leaving damage and corpses on every street they take. Still, it would’ve been fun to have to piece together more of the plot without being spoon fed the movie on a “Motherfucker” spoon (now I’m saying it too much). The villain is sufficiently intimidating, but the screen time given to him is unbalanced at best. We don’t get to know him much after he’s introduced. We just watch his henchmen work and hope that his old fashioned “send someone to kill it” dictator style will work across country borders. He begins to lose his villain badge to his head henchmen, who menacingly stalks this unlikely duo across Europe and takes hits like no average merc should! Kudos to him for stealing the show. Dukhovich is given some nice monologues here and there that let us know he’s boss. His henchmen are obviously planted as moles and mercs throughout the paths of the good guys. Ultimately, his murder and mayhem make it to the courthouse itself, which it pitifully guarded considering it is currently housing an International War Criminal.
The film ends and the body count probably hits 100+ easily by this point. Still, we have no idea what lies in the future for the relationship between prison-destined Kincaid and (possibly redeemed?) high tier protective Agent Bryce. Do they just return to battling it out every time a client and a mark for each of them is one and the same? Is it back to every man for himself? Are they friends or foes? I’d like to think they just got along for the ride and it would be business as usual, but the problem is that all this comedy and banter makes you think there’s more to their relationship by the end. It would have been great to get an idea of where both characters go after the mission and we don’t.

Images Courtesy of IMDB

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