“THE HITMAN’s BODYGUARD” reminds me of that person who is honestly very funny. But frequently you catch them recycling their material that landed well. This one is directed by Patrick Hughes and of course stars; Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman (sort of), Elodie Yung, and Salma Hayek. The story revolves around a notorious hit-man. One who must testify against a Russian dictator he used to work for. He is of course being hunted to keep him from doing so, and in comes a down-on-his-luck bodyguard who will be responsible for getting him to court on time.
Now this is a change for me. I am usually the one who likes a comedy much more than the next person. I like a wide range of humor and this film definitely delivers some strong comical moments. It thrives on the chemistry from the two leads but it also tries to do too much, and eventually wears out its welcome. There is a difference between a film that is trying to create humor, and a film that thinks it’s already humorous. This one to me was the latter. This film was extremely self-aware of what was considered amusing to the point of repeating a lot of jokes. Like wringing out a rag until the last drop of moisture came out of it.
Like I said, I did a good amount of laughing through this one. But at just under two-hours, it ran long and the last forty-five-minutes began to feel fatiguing. The jokes were clever at times and so were many of the comical scenarios. But it felt that much too often the film would rely on simple vulgarities to create laughs and it got to the point where it felt forced and not very natural at all. Now I am an Italian man. My chili naturally runs hot. I can spout vulgarities with the best of them. So much so, that when it comes to clever use of obscenities I consider myself the best of the best of the best.
That comedic angle does work well for this film during a bulk of it. But the laughs turn to chuckles, that turn to glancing at my watch. Curious as to how much longer this odd-couple shtick would continue on for. But as I mentioned there were some great comical moments here-and-there. The chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson was fantastic. The humor was what you would expect. Jackson’s loud outbursts, followed by Reynolds’ trademark quips. They were Reynolds and Jackson, without any variation to their personalities. But this film was always sold as a simple odd-couple, buddy comedy and it works for the most part. There was some fun situational humor, some effective physical comedy, and a good amount of clever dialogue.
I think had this film been shortened it would have had a much greater comical impact without the feeling of it running out of material in the closing act. It felt like it tried to do too much. It tried to get too comical to the point where the natural flow of the laughs dissipated all together. You can only have 100% of any whole thing. This film already tried 100% on the comedy. But it still tried to weave in a plot-line that attempted to be serious at times. Which did not land since the entire story was one retread of many others. You know everything is going to be okay. You know how each of the sub-plots will close. You know what characters are the dirty ones. You know how all the dynamics are going to wrap up. So when the film throws in sections of what appear to be serious storytelling, it never holds any validity.
The performances by the leads were fun and energetic. Reynolds and Jackson were solid as usual and give you what you would expect. They clearly embraced their roles and had fun with the material which does translate very well onscreen. Gary Oldman was decent I guess. He just felt extremely out of place, and for someone as fantastic as he is. Even he gave off the impression of his character being boring and unneeded other than serving as a plot device. Salma Hayek was hit-and-miss for me. She was definitely amusing in her role. But she was overused considering the writing she had to work with. Her opening scene was very comical as we get to see her as a female version of Jackson. She also has a great flashback scene recanting how her and Jackson met. But after that she gets a few more scenes that were all virtually the same, and not really needed.
As for the action-sequences I thought they were wild and fun and the collection of large scale set-pieces do pull you up in your seat. But the hand-to-hand fight sequences were shot too close-up and over-edited to mask the stunt-men. There was nothing terrible about them at all. They are still entertaining enough to watch and do not hinder the overall variety this film brings to the action element. Overall this was a decent action-comedy. One that has its moments and provides some laughs. It’s a two-hour stand-up routine set to a recycled story with some fun action tossed in. It will have people laughing. But it could have been edited down, or at least lined with a more compelling story, it if was intent on taking that part of the film so serious. Also, if you are a fan of Reynolds and Jackson you will enjoy them in this film but it’s more of a at night at home movie in my opinion.