Hollywood’s buddy-cop genre is entirely reliant on the chemistry of the two leads and The Expendables 3 director Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Bodyguard is no different. The August 25 release is a cliched, occasionally tired, and far too long action comedy but Samuel Jackson as hitman Darius Kincaid and Ryan Reynolds as his protector, Michael Bryce, turn in hugely enjoyable performances to elevate the run-of-the-mill material.
The opening of the film could easily have been cut short, because any of the moments without Reynolds and Jackson are completely perfunctory. A Belarusian dictator (Gary Oldman) is undergoing trial at the Hague in Netherlands. For once, Oldman, hamming it up Slavic-style, is the weakest acting performance in a movie. Witnesses are picked off one by one, and the last one, with some proof remaining is Jackson’s Kincaid. The Interpol are unable to transport the hitman-turned-collaborator to Amsterdam and bodyguard Michael Bryce turns up to complete the job.
After the two stars meet, the film finally kicks into a higher gear. The film never leaves behind its campy routes and all attempts at pseudo-moralising via Kincaid, the “good” contract killer, mostly fall flat but there is a verve to the filmmaking. It’s John Wick-lite when it comes to the violent action sequences but even more light hearted. Jackson lets the expletives fly and Reynolds balances Kincaid’s crazy with the straight-man, rule-following Bryce.
The film’s best moment comes in the second half, which is one long set-piece and involves a visceral and goofy chase sequence that is filled with hokey one-liners and over-the-top acting. For once, the audience, might be having too much fun to care.