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THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD won’t resurrect an antiquated genre…

Posted on August 28th, 2017
Posted on August 28th, 2017

by Coop Cooper

Here’s a movie genre you don’t see much anymore these days: The action buddy comedy. In the 80’s and 90’s, this was one of the highest-grossing genres in Hollywood. Franchises like “Lethal Weapon”, “48 Hrs.” and “Beverly Hills Cop” used to bring fans running to the theater. If “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is any indication, this genre is currently on the outs… but hopefully not dead.

Ryan Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a disgraced high-profile personal security specialist, struggles to make ends meet as a low-rent bodyguard for shady clients. Darius Kincade (Samuel L. Jackson) is an incarcerated hitman who is offered a deal by Interpol to grant his wife immunity if he testifies against an ex-Russian president (Gary Oldman) who is on trial for war crimes. When hissecurity detail is wiped out in an ambush, Kincade goes on the run with Interpol agent Roussel (Elodie Yung) who blackmails Bryce – her former lover – into helping them. Bryce and Kincade have a history as well and if they want to survive, they must put aside their differences and work together.

For a movie that has such a high body count, this film is featherweight light. Jackson and Ryan are such smart alecks, they actually have good chemistry. Too bad the script doesn’t give them much more than juvenile cursing to throw at each other. As they interact, it’s a bit interesting to see how they view each other as the bad guy, especially considering how many times they had nearly killed each other in the past. However since the tone of the flick is so rosy, it doesn’t take long for them to become best buddies – then enemies again – then buddies again.

Salma Hayek has a nice cameo as Kincade’s feisty wife. In fact, she has all the best lines and practically steals the show. The flashback scene where she and Kincade meet may be the only truly funny moment in the film. The main story gets better as it goes along but it’s nothing new. It’s all about watching Jackson and Reynolds chew up the scenery which they do while drifting from one cliché action scene to the next. It has none of the style that made “John Wick” such a hit and none of the originality that made “Baby Driver” a technical wonder.

With the very large exception of “Dead Pool”, Reynolds has long had difficulty choosing solid projects that do well at the box office. You could chalk it up to bad luck or difficulty finding a niche, but this film is yet another example in that long list of mediocrity. “Dead Pool” proved he belongs in the A-list, so now that he has won his audience back, maybe he shouldn’t take movies that Tom Cruise probably passed on.

Samuel L. Jackson simply likes to work and he is better at balancing his top tier films with his low level stinkers. I think a lot of people, myself included, are ready to see him return to his villainous character ‘Mr. Glass’ in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming sequel to “Unbreakable” in 2019.

As for the buddy action comedy, I don’t see much room for it in the current market of superhero films, horror blockbusters, fantasy epics and giant monster movies. It made a slight comeback with “Bad Boys” 1 & 2 and it will again at some point (hopefully), but for now they are dead and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is just another nail in the coffin.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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