Raleigh, N.C. — The Hitman’s Bodyguard is in theaters this week. It stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, but very easily could have come out this week 20 years ago and starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The plot, the characters, all of it feels dated and forgotten.
How you feel about the movie will hinge largely on how you feel about Ryan Reynolds. Why? Because he plays the same character in every movie. Ryan Reynolds in The Hitman’s Bodyguard is Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool is Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal is Ryan Reynolds in Van Wilder. And look, Reynolds is a charming guy and he can be fun to watch…for about five minutes.
in The Hitman’s Bodyguard he plays Michael Bryce, a former CIA agent who now works as a bodyguard for some of the most evil people on the planet. He is at the top of his game until a Japanese arms dealer is killed while in Michael’s care.
Fast forward two years. Michael has lost his edge. He lives in his car and pees in an apple juice bottle that for some reason he hangs on to instead of just tossing it out the window trucker style. Michael gets a call from an ex-girlfriend (Daredevil’s Elodie Young) who works for Interpol.
She has been charged with transporting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the Hague, where he will testify about the war crimes of Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a Belarusian dictator who I guess screenplay writer Tom O’Connor fought every urge to name Pladimir Vutin.
During the transport, Kincaid’s security detail is intercepted by mercenaries working for Dukhovich. Most of the Interpol team is killed. Kincaid and Agent Roussel, Michael’s ex, escape to a safe house. That is where Roussell calls Michael and enlists his help getting Kincaid from England to Holland to testify.
From there The Hitman’s Bodyguard turns into a road comedy and there are a few laughs along the way, but the keyword is few. Overall, it feels like the majority of this cast is on autopilot. Hell, I bet the studio was looking for “a Samuel L. Jackson type” to play Darius and was shocked to learn Jackson himself would be available. Salma Hayek is a different story. She plays Darius’ wife and rather than playing a caricature of herself, she is just playing a version of Sofia Vergara that gets to say the F word a lot.
The only actor that looks like they are trying to be good is Elodie Young, and she is REALLY trying. Trying and failing. Her acting skills and line delivery can be described as “extra in the Golden Girls” level bad. Go back and watch and see what I mean. There’s a marathon on TV Land every Sunday.
The script is littered with tropes of 1990s filmmaking that will make you wonder how long The Hitman’s Bodyguard has been sitting on a studio’s shelf. Darius is a cross between an Uncle Jessie-like cool guy and the magical blackman, which has been it’s own genre of movies since the 1980s, but really hit it’s peak in 1999 and 2000 (think Legend of Bagger Vance, The Green Mile, The Matrix, Family Man, Final Destination, et al). Bad guys are deadly accurate sharpshooters from miles away, but are too blind to see vans headed right at them.
A man sitting in front of me in the theater actually did a great job of summarizing the whole movie before it even started. He was there with a wife or girlfriend and apparently had forgotten what movie they were there to see, so he asked.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” she said.
“That title don’t make no damn sense,” he replied. So, she pulls out the ticket to show him that the name of the movie is indeed The Hitman’s Bodyguard. He looks at the ticket and then utters a sentence so perfect, that the studio should really have used it in every piece of marketing they released for this movie.
“Some bad s*** must happen if a hitman needs a bodyguard.”
Indeed sir. Some bad s*** does happen.
Demetri Ravanos is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has reviewed movies for Raleigh and Company, Military1.com and The Alan Kabel Radio Network.