All the ingredients are there, yet the final product fails to deliver.
What a fantastic idea for an action-comedy movie.
Captured hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) agrees to testify against alleged war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), but in order to keep Kincaid alive a compromised Interpol must call upon the assistance of disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) whose past missions were consistently imperilled thanks to the very killer he’s now tasked with protecting.
It’s a terrific concept, an amazing cast and, unfortunately, a spectacularly disappointing movie.
The odd-couple, buddy action-comedy format has gives us some great films over the years, including several featuring Sam Jackson himself. The mid-90s classics Die Hard With A Vengeance and The Long Kiss Goodnight saw the star paired with perfect yings to his characters’ yang - first via Bruce Willis’s no nonsense NYPD cop John McClane, and then Geena Davis’s homemaker-cum-assassin Charly Baltimore. Both films offered that perfect blend of high personal stakes, high-octane action and high quality dialogue that, when combined, added rare complexities to the genre's traditionally two-dimensional characters and delivered sequences at once capable of making you laugh, wince and white-knuckle grip your armrest.
In The Hitman’s Bodyguard, by contrast, the overwhelming feeling is that whilst writer Tom O’Connor understood all the ingredients necessary to make a hit film, he failed to appreciate the subtleties of how best to then combine them. And the ingredients really are all there. The film's concept is tailor made to deliver automatic and heightened conflict between its leads (to say nothing of non-stop threats from the villain’s henchmen), however everything about their relationship feels forced. Ryan’s ‘by the books, boring means safe’ mantra sits uncomfortably with the actor’s natural sarcastic schtick, while Jackson’s foul-mouthed tirades lack both the venom and the wit to carry any real force. The result is a lot of shouting without every feeling like any of it matters, and - when coupled with a staggering level of nonchalance during every fight scene - The Hitman’s Bodyguard ends up a story robbed of any sustained tension.