Clichéd and Overlong, There is Still Fun to be Had with ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

hitmanRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson sharing the screen here is probably as close as we’ll ever get to seeing Deadpool join Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” follows a bodyguard (Reynolds) who must escort an assassin (Jackson) to the International Court of Justice in order to have him testify against a brutal dictator (Gary Oldman). Salma Hayek also stars as Patrick Hughes directs.

The trailers for this film were honestly some of the funniest I’ve ever seen, especially the red band ones, and I have been a big fan of Ryan Reynolds for years (and am a little salty that I have to share him with the world now that “Deadpool” really put him on the map). So I was looking forward to “Hitman’s Bodyguard” and even though it is overlong and breaks no new ground, the vulgar chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson and some fun action set pieces are probably enough to make it worth your time.

Like I said, I’m a longtime Reynolds fan and his quippy, sarcastic charm is on display here. Playing a “AAA-rated protection agent” who obsesses over every detail, there are nuggets of a fun “Odd Couple” pairing against Jackson’s “say motherf***** every-other-sentence” hitman. They have good give-and-take and it is fun to see Jackson having fun in a stupid R-rated comedy again, but there are a few points their interactions may come off as grating to some viewers. Gary Oldman, who will likely earn his second career Oscar nomination later this year for “Darkest Hour,” hams it up here in a fake Russian accent, and I’m not sure why he’s in this film other than maybe because he was famous for playing bad guys in 1990s action flicks.

This script by Tom O’Connor made its way onto the 2011 Black List, the survey of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, but it then underwent rewrites just a month prior to filming in order to add comedic elements to the plot instead of being a straight drama. This can partially be spotted, as some scenes have awkward flow and aren’t sure whether or not the film wants to be taking itself seriously or be a light-hearted buddy action-comedy.

The action is for the most part well-staged. I know I’m in the minority but I actually enjoyed “Expendables 3” and thought director Patrick Hughes shot some of the best action sequences of that series. Here we are treated to two fun shootouts and an engaging chase, although that said chase goes on for far too long and gets quite repetitive by the end.

The film as a whole, in fact, from certain scenes to its Peter Jackson-esque inability to end, just feels like it had too much meat on the bones and had it been trimmed down by 15 minutes this could’ve been a breezy late-summer comedy.

The best way to summarize “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is using an outtake that plays during the credits. While setting up for a scene, a clocktower in the background starts chiming and the crew and actors have to wait for the bells to end. Reynolds sits quietly with a deadpan look on his face and eventually cracks a smile before going, “is this the damn director’s cut?” That’s this film. It provides the occasional laugh and goes on for far too long, but the more you’re willing to tolerate the greater enjoyment you’ll have.

Critics Rating: 6/10


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