2017 has been a pretty rough year for comedies. There weren’t a lot of good ones, many questionable and decidedly unfunny ones too (like Rough Night). Thankfully, The Hitman’s Bodyguard delivered. The film is uplifted by Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson’s onscreen presence and chemistry. Some of the film even feels like it was ad-libbed a lot by Jackson and the pair of actors looked like they were having a grand old time with the script. The movie is swiftly paced, has great comedic timing, and the performances give the film some spunk and spirit, easily making it one of the better summer (and comedy) movies of the year.
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is an elite “AAA” bodyguard who services high-profile crooks. Or… he was an elite bodyguard before a job gone wrong left him at the bottom of the ladder and his relationship with Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) on the rocks. Two years later, he’s tasked with protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a hitman who’s set to testify in the International Court against Eastern European criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Bryce and Kincaid have to work together to evade Dukhovich’s men, who want Kincaid dead, and get to the trial before time runs out.
The comedic beats in the film are, for the most part, spot on. Reynolds and Jackson have a continuous banter that smoothly carries the film from one moment to the next. And what’s great about it is that besides just being surly toward each other and the situation, they balance each other out. Kincaid’s optimism for life, love (he has a whirlwind kind of romance with Salma Hayek’s Sonia Kincaid), and his morally questionable job, puts a vibrant bounce in his step. Bryce, on the other hand, is too busy blaming his ex for something he can’t let go of and is in a sour, but constantly sarcastic mood, despite bonding with Kincaid in exceedingly bizarre circumstances. Their relationship progresses even though there’s a constant need to throttle each other.
Elodie Yung, probably most recognizable from her role as Elektra in Marvel’s Daredevil, has a larger role than initially expected, but, as is unfortunately usual in these kinds of films, she isn’t utilized to her full potential. It is nice to see her stand up for herself against Bryce’s never ending blame game though. Salma Hayek has the do-as-I-please attitude that is both in-your-face and hilarious. She is also underutilized, but is a scene stealer throughout the film.
One of the most noticeable things about The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the action. It keeps the pace of the film going, but never overtakes the film. Director Patrick Hughes, whose films include The Expendables 3 and Red Hill, takes great care to make each action sequence different from the one before. Sometimes, this involves a continuous shot or a 360-degree camera movement to individualize each one. During one action sequence, which takes place in a hardware store, the camera is a bit shaky and speaks to the confined space where the fight takes place. In other areas, specifically in scenes that are happening outside, the camera is more steady and cuts from one place to another without much chaos.
As a simple comedy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard works on many levels. The plot has enough going for it so that the characters have stakes, the cast is fantastic, and the action is wonderfully executed (with the film’s locations utilized nicely). The film moves at a solid pace and there’s never really a boring moment. There is plenty of chuckle-worthy humor and also a good amount of laugh-out-loud comedy, with Jackson and Reynolds playing off of each other really, really well. If you need a good laugh, then The Hitman’s Bodyguard is definitely worth seeing.
There is plenty of chuckle-worthy humor and also a good amount of laugh-out-loud comedy, with Jackson and Reynolds playing off of each other really, really well. If you need a good laugh, The Hitman's Bodyguard is definitely worth seeing.