By Ian Morton
Although it doesn’t do enough to stay in the mind for long, some interesting action sequences and a brilliant comedy double act will certainly put The Hitman’s Bodyguard toward the top of a particularly average summer season.
After falling from grace, ex-triple A rated bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is drafted in to ferry a key witness – and infamous hitman Darrius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) – from London to the International Court of Justice in Amsterdam. With an enemy behind every corner, it’s up to our heroes to put aside their differences to get there on time.
With only a few titles fattening his back-catalogue of work, director Patrick Hughes shows little in terms of technical skill but plenty of promise when it comes to handling a lead double act.
Visually, the style and quality of each shot vary tremendously depending on what’s happening on screen. On the one hand – although heavily edited – the action scenes are well executed. Whether tracking a motorboat down the waterways of Amsterdam, a chase scene through a buzzing highway or some snappy hand to hand combat, the quick quirky choreography do enough to merit a place in the action genre. On the other hand however, oddly shot CGI and green-screen work combined with some horrible, cataract inducing background blur are a constant distraction as you frequently find yourself wondering whether your eyes are giving up or if there’s a problem with the projector.
This curious imbalance continues when we look at plot structure too. The simple plot is drawn out quite extensively through the first half, never really capturing much attention except when the main leads are on screen. Once finally up and running, the story flits between fun, exciting set pieces and boring, often unnecessary character arcs – consequently falling short whenever the real plot tries to find its footing.
Thankfully though, the glue holding everything together is the brilliant double-act of Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds. Rather than follow an all too familiar good cop/bad cop routine, the characters are defined by what side they’re on rather than their differing personalities. Jackson is on top form, playing the lovable anti-hero hitman, while Reynolds steps gracefully into the well-worn shoes of the sarcastic do-gooder. Harking back to some of the better buddy-comedy acts in the past, it’s a relationship that even Shane Black would be proud of as the two play-off one another perfectly.
Overall, The Hitman’s Bodyguard will ultimately be this year’s guilty pleasure for many a film fan. Regardless of its flaws, a stellar team-up mixed with some successful action sequences ultimately make this more fun than frustrating. When all is said and done, it’s a typical popcorn film that will take you to the edge of your seat as well as make you laugh. 3 out of 5 stars.
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