You would think for director Patrick Hughes, coming off the back of The Expendable franchise, it would take some doing to create an action film that’s even more absurd, and gloriously overstated than his previous endeavour – and yet, with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, he’s somehow managed it.
Ryan Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, one of the world’s most dependable bodyguards, who falls out of love with his profession after one of his clients is killed during his protection. Years pass and he’s approached by notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to take on this monumental job – for Michael must ensure that Darius makes it to the International Court of Justice unscathed, for he’s set to testify against war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Naturally the latter’s henchmen are determined to prevent the witness from making it to Hague alive, as the odd duo of Michael and Darius journey together. Question is – who’s really protecting who?
With Europe working as a wonderful backdrop – with Amsterdam in particular a great backdrop to the violence that ensues, the film does look remarkably tacky and cheap for a big Hollywood blockbuster. In some ways it adds to the film’s charm, giving it an almost cartoon-like approach as it feels so fake, which enforces the notion of surrealism, which this film thrives off – as while set in the real world, it depicts a world very far from reality. But it’s still devaluing and somewhat distracting, too. Nonetheless, there is fun to be had with this film, which thrives when more gimicky in its approach, with some of the best action sequences the more ridiculous – such as one memorable scene that unfolds in a hardware store, where Reynolds finds himself using every single product on the shelves to help defeat his formidable opponent. There is another entertaining scene in a bar where we see Darius’ wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) kick some serious ass. A character however, who is criminally underused in this production.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is absurd, irreverent, playful, over the top and completely bonkers in parts – but it’s fun and engaging with it. Now there’s no denying there is a place for a films this unashamedly committed to entertainment value, though it’s hard not to find yourself just wishing there was a little more depth and originality attached, to what is otherwise a frustratingly generic actioner.