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There are two kinds of summer popcorn movies on the less thoughtful end, meaning the less substantial type. There is the kind that can be fun, while also managing to annoy, confuse and perhaps make you upset at the fact that you have just wasted two hours of your life that you can’t get back; and then there is the kind that can be honest to goodness pure fun that you can experience genuine enjoyment from. The Hitman’s Bodyguard falls into the latter category. It is a film that, for all the criticisms being leveled at it, is a good time at the movies. And in the wake of recent events in the world and the fallout from those events, we need as many good times at the movies as we can get. Besides that, it’s back to school time. That should scream out for one last hurrah before all the serious dramas of Oscar season run in.
This picture is as transparent as you can get. It tells you exactly everything you need to know as quickly as possible and sets you off running. Ryan Reynolds is Michael Bryce, a top-rated bodyguard whose job is keeping people safe, no matter who they are, good or bad. He plans everything out to the tiniest detail, every escape route is covered, every possible area where an assassin can strike has been considered. You want to be protected, he is the guy to do it.
On a routine job protecting Japanese arms dealer, everything goes well until they fall apart at the last possible minute. Two years later, a very different Michael Bryce has gone from being a top-rated protection agent to guarding virtually a nobody who is barely able to keep himself together. In spite of all that, he is still really good at keeping people alive. The irony is that he becomes tasked with keeping safe the last person he ever expected.
Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is a contract hitman who agrees to testify at the International Court of Justice against a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman), in exchange for the freedom of his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek). He must be transported from prison to the courthouse and guess what, he needs to be protected from forces who want him dead. When the initial plan fails, Michael Bryce reluctantly gets pulled into protecting not only the most notorious killer but his arch-rival. The Moriarty to Bryce’s Holmes, or the other way around for that matter.
Is this the best film you’ll see all summer, absolutely not. It is predictable, loaded with clichés, and holds very little substance. However, it could make a decent case that it is the might be the most outright fun movie you’ll see all summer. If you’re wondering why that is, the answer lies quite simply in the film’s two leads. That is what keeps this film vibrantly alive. They play very well off of one another. Sure, Ryan Reynolds may have gotten top-billing, but make no mistake, this is a genuine Samuel L. Jackson show because he steals every scene he is in. Literally every one. Reynolds is no slouch but it is quite apparent that Jackson is having more fun in this film.
Reynolds has the razor-sharp wit that we are accustomed to seeing him deliver and on its own works just as well in any movie. However, it is the pairing with Jackson’s extremely smooth operator level of cool that gives this film such magic. There is a reason George Lucas gave him his own light saber with the initials B. M. F. It would be a whole different thing altogether if the statement wasn’t true but, the fact remains that Samuel L Jackson is a B. M. F. Fans of Jackson’s portrayal in “Kingsman” will have no choice, but to love Jackson in this film. His comedic timing is gold and he makes it all look so easy. One has to admire the kind of actor Jackson is, he genuinely seems to take on roles that will allow him to really sink his teeth in and have a good time. He certainly does that here.
Reynolds has now worked with arguably the two coolest men working in Hollywood today, Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. Both films have Reynolds opposite the other guy, believing one thing about him and by the end of the film, the perception changes a little. Where Safe House was more grounded and serious, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is much lighter tonally.
There is nothing particularly spectacular about the action it is more or less what you might see in your run of the mill actioner. The same can be said for any and visuals. But aside from Jackson and Reynolds, Salma Hayek gets the honorable mention here as she garners some of the film’s laughs, even if in some cases those laughers are a little cheap. Gary Oldman is also strong here. One of the film’s biggest crimes is that there is barely anything for Oldman to do, but he does the best he can with what is provided for him.
Interesting questions are raised about who the good guys are and who is right in terms of how the job gets done. If there are any two guys you want having a conversation like that who isn’t Batman and Superman, then Jackson and Reynolds are the perfect guys to have that talk.