Film’s most overrepresented trade: still good for a laugh

FILM by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Opens Aug. 18

Welcome to the end of summer, a magical time after blockbuster season and before Autumn’s prestige pictures and Christmas releases. It’s not surprising a mid-budget, mildly entertaining flick like The Hitman’s Bodyguard finds a home here.

Coasting heavily on the leads’ likeability, this action-comedy flick is a notch above those buddy cop movies Luc Besson churns whenever he’s not blowing $200 million on green-screen aliens. Ryan Reynolds is Bryce, a by-the-book, utterly effective bodyguard hired to get the star witness in a trial against an Eastern European tyrant safely from London to Amsterdam.

The witness in question is right there in the title: Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a wisecracking assassin with over 200 kills. Kincaid and Bryce have crossed paths in the past, but at opposite sides of a high-powered rifle. The formula dictates initial hostility must give way to begrudging respect, while dispatching hordes of hired guns sent to bring them down.

A couple of ingredients elevate The Hitman’s Bodyguard above its kin: the action sequences show more imagination than your average shoot-em-up. The approach to carnage is an afterthought: Kincaid and Bryce have other concerns on their minds, and dealing with armed-to-the-teeth sicarios is just another day at the office.

If only their personal problems were half as interesting.

Of course the film lives and dies on Reynolds and Jackson’s bantering. Their rapport is amusing but ultimately unremarkable. You’ll forget about The Hitman’s Bodyguard by the time you reach the lobby. Sometimes that’s okay.❧