Director Patrick Hughes has brought together an all-star cast of characters and revitalized a beloved genre: the R-rated buddy cop comedy. However, the question becomes whether this was a true homage to the films past, or an over-the-top mess, and the answer is entirely up to each person.
The film starts with the evil President Vladislav Dukhovich, played by Gary Oldman, being put on trial for crimes against humanity while serving as the President of Belarus. Interpol has tried putting a case together against him, but many of the complaints are purely hearsay, with virtually every credible eyewitness has mysteriously disappeared. The last one available is incarcerated legendary hitman Darius Kincaid, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
However, while bringing him to his court hearing in Amsterdam, the convoy was attacked by very well trained and armed mercenaries. Believing there is a leak in Interpol, the surviving agent reaches out to a bodyguard from her past named Michael Bryce, played by Ryan Reynolds. Bryce and Kincaid have less than a week to get from London to Amsterdam while dodging Interpol, the mercenaries sent by the President, and the urge to kill each other due to years of pent up professional rivalry.
When you take two of the most notorious foul-mouthed, quick-witted men in Hollywood and play them opposite each other with sufficient professional tension, and the dialogue will practically take care of itself. The two characters are both remarkably loveable, and their chemistry matches almost instantaneously, and it makes for some very enjoyable scenes.
One of the major downsides of the film in its homage to classic cop and spy comedies that has come before is the practical invincibility of the lead actors. Whether it is running headlong toward supposedly well trained mercenaries firing hundreds of bullets that aren’t quite close enough, being just out of range of an explosion that can be heard from hundreds of yards away, or even being thrown through the windshield of a speeding car, nothing can even leave a significant scratch on our heroes. Much like other action movies, when there is seemingly nothing that can hurt them, it completely removes the tension from interesting and otherwise impressive scenes.
Since it is an action comedy, part of the film hinges on the action, and while the scenes are all done very well, there isn’t anything especially spectacular or even significantly unique about any of them. Shortly after viewing, there aren’t moments that inspire significant awe or wonder, leaving the audience with a bit of an underwhelming feeling. The explosions are impressive, sure, and the shoot-outs are incredibly well shot, but there just isn’t enough for the film to be a strong, stand-alone film.
Simply stated, albeit hardly critically so, the movie is completely fine with very few flaws. The supporting cast of Gary Oldman and Selma Hayek play their respective roles very well, the gunfights and chase scenes are quite well written, and the chemistry between Jackson and Reynolds is the kind of thing that legends are made of. However, the stale flavor of an 80s buddy cop comedy is rife throughout the viewing, and it is difficult to overlook the fact that Jackson has even played similar characters sarcastically in other movies. If the only thing you are looking for is an entertaining action comedy between two of the wittiest characters Hollywood has to offer, than The Hitman’s Bodyguard will give you everything that you’re looking for. However, if you want a little more from your action film experience, you are going to have to look elsewhere. Two stars out of four.