‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard:’ an expletive-laden misfire

Andy Moser

Can language count as a use of color? If so, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a rainbow.

Patrick Hughes (Red Hill, The Expendables 3) directs this action/comedy where bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) must escort professional contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the International Court of Justice to testify against a ruthless tyrant (Gary Oldman).

The relationship dynamic between Bryce and Kincaid is one we’ve seen plenty of times before. Bryce is the uptight, by-the-book agent with an objective to fulfill; Kincaid is the unpredictable, shoot-first-think-later personality type that frequently annoys Bryce and makes things more difficult. And for the most part, you can look past the cliché and enjoy the rugged chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson, which speaks to their talent.

They own most of the good to come out of this film. Unfortunately, the hit list of negatives is a bit lengthy.

For starters, Tom O’Connor gives us a script that hinges upon shock value. The two foul-mouthed characters are frequent in their use of obscenities. Sometimes it’s funny and well-timed. Other times, it’s predictable and unnecessary (I never thought hearing Samuel L. Jackson drop that golden M.F. bomb could ever grow tiresome).

Also, many of the action scenes fail to hold their grip. Chases play out like Grand Theft Auto ridiculousness, and often go on longer than they need to. Some action scenes are accompanied by boisterous rock music that does nothing but assault the eardrums. There is a somewhat enjoyable long shot of Reynolds fighting the agent tasked with taking him out, but it’s muddled by a shaky handheld camera that’s more distracting than it is immersive.

The film additionally tries to give general life advice and raise ethical dilemmas about the morality of contracted killing, but it all falls on deaf ears because Hughes and O’Connor do not provide a setting that would allow these questions to be taken seriously.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the movie is the lighting. Whether it be natural or artificial, almost all of the lighting is blurred, creating a foggy, almost dreamlike atmosphere. You’re looking at these shots the same way you look at things when you first get up in the morning. It felt like I was squinting, but I wasn’t. The movie actually scared me into thinking my vision was rapidly deteriorating. It’s a technical issue that’s unforgivable at the higher levels of filmmaking, and it’s unbearably distracting.

If The Hitman’s Bodyguard had simply shot itself in the foot, it could’ve been saved. But its wounds are too great—beyond the salvation of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, two actors whose impressive resumes will hardly be impacted by it. It’s dizzying, loud, and yes, occasionally funny. You’re definitely best-suited waiting for it to come to a Redbox near you, but it’s also not the worst $10 you could spend at the movies.

Sails: 2/5


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