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Movie Review: #TheHitmansBodyguard

The all-too-familiarity of The Hitman's Bodyguard still makes for an enjoyable time.

Review by Matt Cummings

If the old adage can be believed that some old movies need a newer version to rekindle interest in the genre, then The Hitman's Bodyguard might be the best example we've seen this year. And though it feels exactly like its predecessors, the film entertains with a way over-qualified cast that oozes comedic gems and sports great action, ready (but not quite qualified) to join the pantheon of buddy-cop comedies. Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is living the high life as one of the world's top bodyguards, escorting an asset all the way to the airport, only to see him get whacked at the last second. As a result, Michael soon loses everything, sending his self-professed "AAA" status spiraling. But redemption is on its way as his ex-girlfriend/Interpol agent Amelia (Elodie Young) recruits him to escort a high-value target: none other than the assassin Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) who promises to expose the Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) while on trial. Having attempted to kill Michael 28 times in the past, he and Kincaid don't exactly get along, as an early fight sequence proves. But as Dukhovich's men get closer, Michael and Kincaid soon realize that they need each if they hope to arrive at The Hague in time. Along the way, they'll cut a broad swath of death, mayhem, and inappropriate jokes while Kincaid hopes his testimony will secure the release of his foul-mouthed wife (Salma Hayek) from a European prison. As soon as The Hitman's Bodyguard begins, it's clear what we're going to get: unabashed irresponsible dialogue and action, all set to Director Patrick Hughes' shaky camera style. And while that may not be everything a movie needs to be successful, it all works somehow, even though the crew lineup here might spell disaster. Hughes' short directorial reign included the career-ending Expendables 3, but with Bodyguard he assembles a film with a far-better cast, and bolstered by newbie Writer Tom O'Connor. One big reason for Bodyguard's success is the comedic gold between Reynolds and Jackson. One can easily imagine this becoming a Deadpool movie starring Nick Fury, but it's the chemistry of these leads that keeps us awake once the shooting stops. They joke, punch, hug, and 'get real' with one another with surprising regularity, clearly enjoying themselves in the process. This is Jackson at his most Jacksonian, a foul-mouthed wrecking machine with a penchant for killing people and looking dope while he does it; xXx's Vin Diesel would be proud. If Jackson wasn't so strong here, people would be crushing over Reynolds' straight-man as he plans his shots too much and overly laments about his former life. Another surprise is Hayek's sailor mouth; her dismissal of her fat cell mate, who's forced to stare into a corner before she lets off a defensive fart got a ton of laughs from our test audience. Hayek is unhinged here, almost as dangerous as Kincaid, as demonstrated by the scene of how the two met. But that's Bodyguard M.O. to a tee: give us unbelievable action while two hotheads pour out one-liners like a drunken bartender. But there are two big issues with Bodyguard that almost sink it: the predictability of the plot and the performance of the usually-solid Oldman. One of the most venerated actor of our generation, Oldman is entirely disposable here, turning in a performance that could have easily been copied by a dozen others. His disposability is achieved at film's end when he's easily dispatched by our heroes, after (our course) a long-winded diatribe of insults that doesn't work at all. Having said that, the film still honors the genre with several good action sequences and a ton of comedic insults that effectively overshadow its more serious shortcomings. The Hitman's Bodyguard may feel a lot like Lethal Weapon or Midnight Run, but it refreshes the genre enough for a new generation who might find 30 year old movies a bit dated. One may not remember any specifics upon emerging from the theater, but it more than satisfies as a coda to one of the most disappointing summers in 20 years. Viewed from such a dire perspective, it might actually be worth your time to see. But do check out Logan Lucky and of course Atomic Blonde beforehand. You'll thank me later. The Hitman's Bodyguard is rated R for strong violence and language throughout and has a runtime of 118 minutes. Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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