“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is a pretty standard buddy action comedy that is almost passable. Almost.
It stars Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a bodyguard who’s been assigned to protect dangerous hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) who is about to testify against a tyrannical Russian dictator (Gary Oldman.) Their series of adventures follows like a check list of every buddy action comedy since the genre’s inception: They don’t get along when they meet, they exchange bullets and wisecracks at every corner, and there’s also something in their past that will inevitably connect them.
Salma Hayek costars as Jackson’s wife, herself being equally as brutal and vicious as Jackson and she is serving prison time for a crime she claims she didn’t commit. Jackson decides to testify against the dictator in exchange for her release. Boy, we didn’t see that coming from a mile away, did we?
Reynolds’ character is also reluctant to escort Jackson to the trial, but he looks at it as an opportunity to redeem himself after his last case went so horribly wrong.
Remember when I said something about an event in their past that will inevitably connect the two? Red flag.
Reynolds and Jackson do have moments of fun chemistry and the action scenes are impressively staged, and that is perhaps the only glue holding this story together.
The problem is not with the stars so much as its cliché-driven script and occasionally inconsistent tone. Every time our two main characters have a moment of camaraderie, there’s another moment that bogs down the film in predictability and/or falls flat. It takes a while for the whole mess to pick itself back up again, too.
It might serviceable enough on a Friday night, but it feels mostly like a missed opportunity despite the talents of everyone involved.
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.