“Get Triggered,” commands one of the movie posters for Patrick Hughes’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard. I don’t know what that means here, but this film is a bit fluffy to trigger much more than some chuckles — after all the eyerolling, of course. That’s how it went for me.
Ryan Reynolds is Michael Bryce, a humiliated professional bodyguard whose career took a hit — get it? — after a client (Tsuwayuki Saotome) was shot and killed right in front of him. Now, he barely ekes out a living guarding low profile corporate executives addicted to speed. He operates out of his run down car, which is where he also lives (as evident from his “bathroom,” an empty water bottle). To make matters worse, Michael is still reeling from a breakup with Amelia (Élodie Yung), an Interpol agent he blames for his sad state.
Amelia is charged with a simple but very consequential mission: to deliver notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. Darius has agreed to testify against Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), the depraved dictator of Belarus on trial for crimes against humanity. Unfortunately for the prosecution, Dukhovich has a stalwart and invincible army of goons that hunts and kills any witness who has any dirt on him. Darius is the prosecution’s last hope, and the clock is ticking.
When Amelia’s armored car is attacked by Dukhovich’s men, she and Darius go into hiding. She contacts Michael for a favor: to complete the mission and get the star witness to the Hague. She doesn’t tell him who the witness is, and it turns out that Michael and Darius have a history. It ain’t pretty.
Not surprisingly, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is light fare, a stock comedy/action quasi buddy flick. It’s a perfect summer movie; frankly, I’m not sure why it wasn’t released earlier. Tom O’Connor’s screenplay is repetitive, predictable, and loaded with F-bombs, but it’s fun and isn’t at all serious. Reynolds and Jackson have an amusing love/hate relationship filled with banter about everything from murder to love to pop music that wouldn’t be out of place in Pulp Fiction. In between their banter is nonstop action — car chases, explosions, shoot outs in helicopters and boats, cat and mouse games.
Jackson does what he does best: causes grief and cusses with force. Reynolds plays a good square with earnestness. If these two had better chemistry, The Hitman’s Bodyguard would be a more memorable film. Salma Hayek is the best thing about this movie: she’s dramatic and severe and hilarious as Sonia Kincaid, the streetwise but still crazy wife of Darius. Rotting away in an Amsterdam prison, she’s relentless about protesting the grave injustice done to her. She effortlessly steals every scene she’s in.
With Michael Gor, Tine Joustra, Yuri Kolokolnikov, Rod Hallett, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell, Richard E. Grant
Production: Millennium Films, Cristal Pictures
Distribution: Lionsgate Films