“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the type of middling, mediocre nonsense that you’re likely going to find playing on basic cable in three years. It’s such an unremarkable, silly action comedy going through the motions and capitalizing on two men and what they’re famous for. Stars Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds never break out of their comfort zones, and you can almost sense director Patrick Hughes asked both men to just be who everyone knows them for, and really nothing else. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is everything you think a movie starring Jackson and Reynolds will be like. Nothing ever really skirts the edges or thinks outside the box, and the violence seems just tacked on to what was probably a bland PG-13 action comedy in development.
Jackson plays a snarky and loud individual who drops F bombs like it’s a bodily function. All the while Reynolds mugs for the camera, once again playing a cocky smart ass prone to delivering one-liners like it’s going out of style. Speaking of going through the motions, there’s Stephen Rea and Gary Oldman playing the foreign bad guys once more, with Oldman acting with an Eastern European accent he likely perfected hours before filming his first shot of the film. Oldman is such a stock villain that you have to wonder if he ever dozed off during filming. Reynolds is Michael, a protection agent still bruised from being fired from his duty as a federal agent. He’s called upon by his ex-wife to help guard the life of his mortal enemy Darius, who happens to be a deadly hit man with a grudge to settle.
Paired for twenty four hours, Michael and Darius have to learn how to tolerate each other or else Darius might be murdered by the relentless wave of assassins seeking him. Hoping to track him down, the government seeks the help of Darius’ jailed girlfriend Sonia, who isn’t willing to give up Darius for a break. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” wants to be so many things, from a buddy action comedy, a hit man thriller, and a fractured romance and is only just an uneven, broadly written mess. None of the aforementioned elements ever amount to a remotely unique action comedy, and even at its best it never quite digs itself out of a hole as a third rate “Midnight Run” clone.
One moment we find Salma Hayek slicing a man’s throat in a bloody mess during a bar fight, and the next we find Jackson singing with nuns in a small jeep as Reynolds mugs. There really isn’t a foil to either character, so Jackson and Reynolds seem to be competing to see who can be funnier and more outrageous, sacrificing what little interesting elements of the story there are. When the movie toys with the idea of being a thrilling action comedy, it instead opts for a lot of goofy flashback scenes, and drawn out comedic moments between the pair of leading men that never land. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is an instantly forgettable cinematic white noise that never re-invents the wheel, and is happy that way. Sadly, it’s also one that will likely draw a sequel or two.