Print review of The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Millenium Films, Lionsgate) for the 17th August edition of The Oxford Paper and Oxfordshire Guardian from Taylor Newspapers.
“How do you ruin a script plucked straight from the Hollywood ‘blacklist’ of highly-rated unproduced screenplays? Patrick Hughes’ ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ provides an eloquent answer: decide your serious action-adventure film would actually work better as a screwball buddy comedy, then give your team 2 weeks to rewrite the whole thing. Ouch.
This is, according to star Ryan Reynolds in an interview with Vice, exactly what happened just before filming began on this bizarre project.
Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a former ‘Triple-A’ rated executive bodyguard whose status was revoked after a high-profile failure. When notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) – star witness for the trial of remorseless Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) – goes missing after an attack en route to The Hague, Interpol brings Bryce in as their last resort. He has a chance to both rebuild his reputation and help convict an international criminal – if he can stand Kincaid’s heckling long enough to bring him in.
Put simply, this is no Midnight Run. The tone fluctuates wildly from start to finish, filling gaps between disorientating action sequences with gear-shifting sentimentality and dark political brutality, all while Reynolds and Jackson deliver an endless stream of inane dialogue and sub-par gags.
There are even on-screen clues that the production team know they’ve got a problem on their hands: Bryce and Kincaid are given lines that blandly explain their contrasting characters and differing approaches – as if the writer feels the audience needs to be told this pairing is likely to create humorous conflict. Similarly, the dreadfully cheery soundtrack quite literally cues character and comedy moments as if they might be missed otherwise – listen out for repeated uses of the vinyl slow-down effect as the modern equivalent of the slide-whistle.”
Cast & Crew
Director(s): Patrick Hughes
Writer(s): Tom O’Connor
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Élodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Kirsty Mitchell, Richard E. Grant