The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017) Review: Genuine Article
When a movie gets too self-aware for its own good, it can go either way. They can be fiendishly clever playing on the tropes of its genre, or it can feel like it reaches for brilliance, but never quite makes the mark. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ might fall into the latter camp, but that’s not to say there’s no fun to be had with this R Rated action comedy.
Watching Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson play themselves was more rewarding than I expected. It really ought to be, since it’s the roles they know best, and to their credit, the duo plays off each other like the dream team 90s buddy comedies they’re trying to emulate. They have a hysterical back and forth as they riddle their enemies with bullets, the same way the script is riddled with plot holes and exposition. Then again, anyone who complains about such things is a stuffy film snob who has no business seeing ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’
The roles of the film are in the title. Jackson plays the Hitman, Reynolds the bodyguard. The two are mortal enemies from the start of the film and share a storied history. The bodyguard protects, from the hitman. Their relationship in the movie is marked by constant bickering, and with a clear “you and I couldn’t be more different” buddy movie dynamic. All you need is a Jackson munching on a carrot and Ryan Reynolds with a lisp, and I’d mark this a quiet release of an R Rated Looney Tunes cartoon.
Yet despite how obvious it would be, I found there was a charm to the film. Sometimes, there’s nothing more that I’d like to do than be transported to the world that looks like mine, but without the negatives. There’s violence in this film, but you’ll never feel your heroes are in any grave danger. For a movie that felt as though it was going to buck the trends of its genre, ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is quite comfortable doing the same old thing. While familiarity usually breeds contempt, I appreciated the film for at least delivering an entertaining ride, even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel.
It’s not that I’m giving the film a pass for its errors, but for the entire experience, I’d say its issues were minor. The second half of the film especially capitalizes on the film’s strengths. It gives you more of what you like, the witty banter, implausible action, and does it in a way that wasn’t just a distraction from the film’s errors, but genuinely impressive. The movie crafts some truly interesting action scenes that reward the attentive viewer, even if the rest of the movie lacks that level of intelligence.
‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is a movie that knows exactly what it wants to be, and for the most part, achieves that. The best thing it does is lets its two leads, Jackson and Reynolds, run the show they were meant to run. When the movie’s about to overindulge in their performances, it provides a decent ridiculous action movie. Kudos should also be given to Selma Hayek, who was easily my favourite performance in the film. ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is not a film for the ages, but what it is, is a harmless, fun, creative, and entertaining film you should see at a discount.
Rating: Half Price