The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Film Review |By Christian Tesfaye - Exclusive to Fortune

If Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds and Gary Oldman cannot get one to visit the cinema, then Hollywood is doomed. But The Hitman's Bodyguard is hollow, an ideal definition of lipstick on a pig. Christian Tesfaye awards 5 out of 10 stars.

The summer season is coming to a grind. We have not been bombarded with big budget movies, that are closer to animation than live-action, as much as we used to be when the kids are out of school. Something is holding Hollywood back, I do not know what, and although the movies we are getting are not that good, it is still a relief to watch a movie where the protagonist cannot jump fifty feet or a building that does not fall.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is not a great movie. It does not have unique characters, an exciting plot or a theme of any kind (the filmmakers may suggest love, but I did not buy). But it is still not a superhero flick, a Hollywood extravaganza where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent or an animated hogwash. Although it contains characters we are more or less familiar with, at least we do not recognise them from previously published material.

In this day and age, one cannot ask for too much, I am afraid of jinxing it.

Ryan Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, the world’s richest bodyguard, at least for The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s first five minutes. When a high-level client of his gets killed, by an unknown assassin, he loses his reputation, and thus his career, his girlfriend and his resolve. He now is a broken down bodyguard giving security to low-level clients for little pay. But he still has his talents.

Samuel L. Jackson plays Darius Kincaid, the world’s most notorious hitman, who unfortunately is nabbed by Interpol. The International Police Organization also arrests his wife. But he is given an option to save his spouse. If Kincaid is willing to testify against the dictator of Belarus, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman playing yet another terrifying villain), at The Hague, where Dukhovich is accused of crimes against humanity, then his wife will get to go free.

There is just one hitch, how to get Kincaid to appear before the International Court of Justice without mercenaries hired by Dukhovich could take him out. Interpol tries to transport the hitman through the streets of The Hague surrounded by dozens of heavily armed escorts, but the group is easily intercepted. All but Kincaid and an Interpol agent, who happens to be Bryce’s ex-girlfriend, survive.

Interpol has apparently been infiltrated by a mole, so the Interpol agent decides to call Bryce, who at this point is the most trustworthy person she could find to escort Kincaid to the court. The hitman and the bodyguard, who have a history, have to work together if they are to brave the barrage of gunshots, explosions and very, very bad men.

If a movie had a literal foundation, for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, it would be the actors, Jackson, Reynolds and Oldman.

The first of which, Jackson, is one of Hollywood’s most prolific actors. There are three to four movies that come out every year in his name. He usually dabbles in highly sophomoric, extremely obnoxious material that is not worth the ticket price. He does not seem to have a problem with working with actors and directors that have little experience and no sense of style whatsoever.

But, at the same time, he has cultivated a fruitful relationship with some of the most important filmmakers of our time. Although most of the films he has done suck, others will carry his name to the next millennia.

It was Quentin Tarantino that made Jackson a legend. in the film Pulp Fiction. After that curly hairdo, infectious guffaw and some of the most elegant lines ever spoken by a character, Jackson was a cultural phenomenon.

As such, Reynolds is somewhat overshadowed by Jackson who is the loudest and gets most of the funny lines. The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels less like a buddy movie and feels more like one where Reynolds is just playing a psychic. But this maybe OK, as the actor has much to learn. I like his comic persona, there is something unique about it, and I do not believe he should take too much from Jackson, who is too colourful. But Reynolds lacks that depth and significance actors such as Jackson can carry as they go from one film to another. For Reynolds, Deadpool was a good start.

And what of Gary Oldman, the only actor that could play so many types of villains with equal ingenuity. In Leon: The Professional, Oldman was at his most evil, the kind we all love to hate. A truly enraging villain who pops up in all the wrong places and is anathema to the protagonist. Oldman is given little to play with in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but only he could say so many cheesy lines so terrifyingly.

But, at the end of the day, a badly plotted movie, with mediocre dialogue and visuals blotted with special effects cannot be rescued by three good actors who do their best. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is good enough for a summer season such as this, but, if I was me, I would save my money for Logan Lucky.

Published on Aug 26,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 904]



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