After the immense success of Marvel’s Deadpool, audiences have been yearning for more of Ryan Reynolds. Sadly, the signs that suggest he is set to become the Hollywood juggernaut audiences expect are waning with this latest on-screen effort.
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is a disgraced bodyguard left to pick up minor jobs in the wake of a major career plunder. When offered the highly important task of escorting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a witness to the atrocities committed by the vicious dictator of Belarus (Gary Oldman) to court, he is reluctant. However, the job ultimately poses the idea of getting his life back on track by proving his worth in the field. There is just one problem. Bryce’s history with the client is rather complicated; he is a hitman, and has attempted to murder his newly established protector many times. Now challenged with foiling attempts on the wise-cracking contract killer’s life, it will take everything within his power to restrain himself from silencing Kincaid himself.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard immediately seems indebted to the buddy-cop sub-genre in terms of character relationships. The success of the film in terms of enjoyment solely relies on the chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson, as audiences are lampooned with the two of them for much of the film. Both actors have played cocky, arrogant, and very, very funny before. It definitely seems fitting that they were cast alongside one another in a film of this calibre. Unfortunately, it seems that Jackson was given the much more fun role, with Reynolds seeming to rein in some of the crazy that he can pull of so precisely. The contrast in characters initially works, but it would have been much more entertaining to see Reynolds having as much fun as Jackson clearly is, of whom certainly provides the more stellar performance despite sometimes feeling familiar.
As for narrative, there is nothing that feels refreshing or new. It is a generic action-thriller that is merely improved upon by the occasional seamless blending of comedic moments. The surrounding characters, particularly with Penelope Cruz’s ridiculous performance as Kincaid’s foul-mouthed wife feel painfully forced and caricatured; Oldman’s villain similarly feels like he has been ripped out of the villain handbook for beginners. It is very fortunate for director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) that the two protagonists are performed by charismatic actors with an ability to carry themselves even when faced with uninspiring dialogue.
When in danger of trailing into boring territory, well executed action sequences get the blood flowing so that it does not reach standstill, and the occasional quip from Jackson provides a hearty laugh. Audiences may certainly come out feeling robbed of more laughs than they had anticipated, but if expectations are realistic, there is some good fun to come from seeing The Hitman’s Bodyguard.