The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Some charismatic stars stumble through a subpar script in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which might suffice for those who like their action loud and their plots dumb.

This ultraviolent comic thriller features some scattered laughs and a handful of stylish set pieces, but it’s neither as funny nor as exciting as it needs to be, to compensate for a story lacking coherence and international intrigue.

The film follows Michael (Ryan Reynolds), a disgraced executive bodyguard with a checkered client list whose past mistakes leave him desperate for a second chance. That comes courtesy of an Interpol agent (Elodie Yung), who needs Michael to escort notorious assassin Darius Kinkaid (Samuel L. Jackson) from Manchester to The Hague, where he’s slated to testify against a war criminal (Gary Oldman) from Belarus, of all places.

Complications ensue, of course, as Darius becomes a target on all sides and naturally tries to escape. His profane arguments with his loose-cannon wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), further frustrate Michael’s attempts at a successful delivery by the self-appointed deadline.

Those dynamics never produce much of a spark, though. Reynolds seems to be in his wheelhouse with this role, which combines deadpan humor with nonchalant physical bravado. Oldman chews the scenery with an impressive goatee and exaggerated Russian accent.

As directed by Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3), the film features some elaborate and well-choreographed action sequences, even if the exotic locales are merely window dressing for the formulaic shootouts and chases set mostly amid crowded European city streets.

The screenplay blurs the line between heroes and villains, and it incorporates a flimsy sociopolitical subtext into the proceedings during the gaps in the mayhem. Yet overall, it’s clearly more about brawn than brains.

Although it essentially boils down to another Midnight Run-style buddy comedy coming off the assembly line, The Hitman’s Bodyguard features some amusing touches — mostly due to an eclectic soundtrack — such as Sonia beating up some biker thugs to the Lionel Richie ballad “Hello.”

Given the constant bickering and contrived conflict, none of the characters seem to like one another, and the audience quickly understands why. There’s a recurring gag involving Michael promoting himself as “Triple-A rated.” The film, however, scores significantly lower.


Rated R, 118 minutes.