The Hitman's Bodyguard
With the exception of one impressive chase scene through the Amsterdam canal, all of the best scenes and jokes (save maybe two) from The Hitman’s Bodyguard are in the film’s trailer.
Kudos — and curses — to whoever cut together that glimpse at the seemingly enticing story of former top-level security contractor Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and his shot at redemption by safely transporting legendary assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.
Jammed full of laugh out loud punchlines, oddball physical humor and what appears to be entertaining action sequences, it’s a purportedly hilarious new chapter in the action/comedy subgenre, bolstered by the likable pairing of Reynolds and Jackson, arguably the ideal foul-mouthed duo on the current market.
But in the hands of director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3), the film is a confounding mess, one in which the timing and delivery of the tantalizing bits from the trailer fall flat within the lackadaisical groove of the actual work.
Further degrading the finished product is some of the worst lighting in mainstream cinema history. For reasons unknown, Hughes basks The Hitman’s Bodyguard in a fuzzy white light, overexposing each shot to a distracting degree, though his handling of chase sequences, shootouts and hand-to-hand combat as well as Tom O’Connor’s script are so weak that clearer visuals wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
Hughes’ shepherding of his talented cast is likewise appalling, especially his failure to produce anything close to rapport between the two leads — a presumably brainless task done in by, appropriately enough, a distinct lack of mental acumen.
Elsewhere, would-be amusing subplots involving the mismatched gunmen’s lady loves — incarcerated Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) and Bryce’s Interpol agent ex Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung, Gods of Egypt) — go nowhere. And as the Belarussian baddie Jackson’s testimony could put behind bars, Gary Oldman delivers one of his uniquely miserable performances that pop up every year or so, just when you’re starting to think he may be one of the all-time greats.
Godawful as all of the above is, The Hitman’s Bodyguard does have the aforementioned stunning aquatic pursuit, in which Jackson flees down the crowded waterway on a speedboat, Reynolds creatively dispatches foes on the street level and the mind reels at how such a sequence was executed.
But is it worth buying a ticket and enduring the surrounding garbage? Hell no! Wait for someone to put the exhilarating stretch on YouTube or burn a free Redbox rental code on it in November, skip straight to that scene and return the stinking disc pronto.
Grade: D-plus. Rated R. Now playing at AMC Classic, Biltmore Grande and Carolina Cinemark