It’s been a cruel, cruel summer for movies. Ever since WONDER WOMAN hit our cinemas way back at the beginning of June, we’ve been treated to a succession of eh, meh and bleh films that included THE MUMMY (bleh), PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (bleh), DUNKIRK (meh), ATOMIC BLONDE (eh), VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (meh), and THE DARK TOWER (bleh). Okay, SPIDERMAN: HOMECOMING and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES weren’t bad but they weren’t great either and both have underperformed at the box office. THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD is the latest film that has been touted to turn the tide but will it?
Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds, DEADPOOL; LIFE) is a triple-A grade bodyguard to the rich, powerful and often shadily-inclined but he quickly finds his career in the dumper after one of his clients meets a bullet head on. Fast forward two years and Michael is now protecting coked-up businessmen. His luck may be about to change, though, when he gets a phone call from his ex-girlfriend and Interpol cop, Amelia (Elodie Yung, Elektra on TV’s DAREDEVIL), who asks for his help to deliver a key witness to the International Court of Justice in The Hague where Belorussian strongman, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman, the DARK NIGHT series) is standing trial on charges of torture and genocide. Michael has been blaming Amelia for his reversal of fortune and he doesn’t really want to help her out, but he agrees only to find that his new client is none other than his nemesis, ace contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson, KONG: SKULL ISLAND; THE LEGEND OF TARZAN; THE HATEFUL EIGHT). Kincaid isn’t happy about the arrangement either but the two men agree to try and put aside their distaste and distrust of each other for the sake of the rewards that would await both of them if they are successful. For Michael, Amelia promises him that he will get his triple-A grade status back. For Kincaid, the authorities at Interpol promise him that they will release his wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek, FRIDA), from jail in exchange for his testimony that is sure to put Dukhovich behind bars for life. Dukhovich, however, isn’t going to go down without a fight and while the men road-trip it from the UK to the Netherlands, his collection of skin-headed thugs are there at every turn to ensure they don’t make it to the courtroom alive.
I would like to say that THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD is the kind of film we needed at this point in the summer but, unfortunately, it falls short on so many accounts. There is something very old fashioned, as opposed to retro, about this film that makes no sense at all. The in-your-face soundtrack sounds like it could be lifted from a K-Tel “Hits of the ’70s and ’80s” compilation LP. The same can be said about the font director Patrick Hughes (THE EXPENDABLES 3) used to inform us that Belarus was part of the Former Soviet Union. Someone needs to tell him that Belarus’ independence from the USSR took place 26 years ago, not last week. It’s like watching a schlocky Michael Mann from that time.
On the plus side, Reynolds, Jackson, Oldman and Hayek all do great work with what is a pretty weak script (like why is Sonia in jail in the first place?) but should we expect anything less for these four actors? Reynolds has done his cynical, put-upon guy shtick so many times already. (Remember his sitcom days on TV’s TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE?) Jackson is basically playing any of the characters he has already played in Tarantino’s films so his is no great acting stretch either. Same with Oldman playing eastern Europeans/Russians. Hayek is perhaps the best of the lot, chewing up every scene she appears in. The other good thing about the film is the chase scene through Amsterdam, though it looks like most of the film’s budget was spent on that sequence alone. Unfortunately, the film’s climax sequence seemed like it was done on the cheap, which it probably was.
THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD is yet another “meh” film to his our cinema screens this summer and it’s certainly not going to be the one that will rekindle the box office. It looks like we’ll have to wait for a few more weeks at least for that to happen.
Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live Thursday morning (August 24) at 8:30 am HK time!
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