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Chemistry Helps The Forgettable And Bombastic ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard’ (Movie Review)

There’s a silly, little movie I admire called Money Talks. It’s the pre-Rush Hour action-comedy starring Chris Tucker and directed by Brett Ratner that hit theaters in August 1997. I’ve seen it many times because it plays on TBS a lot and it’s easy to have on in the background. I mention this because The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like a film destined to play in a similar manner. It’s an action-comedy solely relying on the strength of the star chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson that likely would need much attention to be paid to it by a viewer casually watching it from their home. I guess that also speaks to whether or not the big screen is the place for it.

Of course, because you have A-list stars like Reynolds and Jackson, those personalities are enough to keep this from going direct-to-VOD. Director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill, Expendables 3) also does his best to keep things lively by contributing plenty of flashy and loud action scenes to create more chaos than what is found in the verbal assaults that are the result of clashes between our leads. I still wish it added up to more or could have taken up less time.

Reynolds stars as disgraced protection agent Michael Bryce. He’s tasked by his ex-girlfriend and Interpol agent, Amelia (Elodie Yung), to guard a notorious hitman, Darius Kincaid (Jackson), as the effort is made to transport him to the International Court of Justice. If Kincaid makes it to a hearing in time, he can testify against an evil European dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (played with 100 servings of ham by Gary Oldman). Dukhovich wants none of this and puts plenty of effort into stopping Kincaid. The only real question is whether or not Bryce and Kincaid will kill each other first.

The film plays like a 90s action movie throwback regarding having mismatched partners team-up against bad guys, with lots of R-rated violence and swearing to be found throughout. I suppose it could be appreciated, for the film does not feel restrained in any way aside from the budget (some of those explosions looked pretty shoddy). Of course, the tone of a movie like this is all that matters, and it comes down to how much you like these two actors screaming at each other.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard wants to play like a screwball comedy at times, stopping short of giving Jackson and Reynolds full-on musical moments inspired by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope’s “Road To” films. I would likely be more favorable to this movie if it did ratchet things up to that level of ridiculousness, but as it stands, there is some enjoyment to be found. The problem is how the film mainly feels fine coasting along, as opposed to giving this original summer movie a bit more edge in any direction.

Instead, while the film delivers a bare minimum of what the audience came for, it’s not enough in a season full of more entertaining spectacle. Jackson appears to be having a blast in a leading role that lets him be the purest version of what years of fandom have built him up to be (an utterly cool dispenser of swears and attitude). Reynolds, meanwhile, is the straight man of the two, which has him delivering non-stop snarkiness that reminds me of the years before his more ambitious dramatic ventures, let alone the role he was born to play when it comes to channeling his comedic energy (Deadpool). I’m not big on that earlier form of jokey Reynolds and Jackson’s charisma only goes so far when his energy is not harnessed by those who know how to best use it.

Now it’s not as if there are no laughs. Again, this is a movie that will easily work as a comfort watch on TV. I was amused by a good number of moments that play up the reactions these two have to each other. There is also a good section of non-stop action in the final third of the film that sells the kind of excitement one wants to see.

Hughes loads the final act with foot, car, boat and motorcycle chases, with a level of technical expertise that is impressive enough not to want to call it out for choppy editing (one of the good things about not editing down to a PG-13 movie). It may not say much for the rest of the film, which has by-the-numbers material supported by the leads careening through every scene with an easy-to-understand motivation, but I can see how aspirations only planned to push this film so far.

At nearly two hours, The Hitman’s Bodyguard hangs around way longer than it needs to, which is ultimately why I can’t say it’s a decent distraction worth checking out right away. Of course, if you are incredibly fond of these two lead actors and can’t wait to see them bouncing lines off of each other, there won’t be much in the way of disappointment on that front. At the very least, there will be something to smile at if you find yourself coming across this flick in your down time.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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