The Hitman’s Bodyguard
by Hope Madden
Who remembers Safe House, the passable 2012 action flick that sees Ryan Reynolds in over his head trying to keep an international assassin, played by Denzel Washington, safe?
Well, lobotomize Safe House, swap in Samuel L. Jackson for Denzel, trade grit for humor and you have the mid-August version of an action comedy, The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
Jackson is Darius Kincaid.
No he isn’t. He’s an underwritten tough guy, filled out with characteristic Jacksonisms: foul language and swagger. He’s Samuel L. Jackson, motherfucker.
Likewise, Reynolds may go by Michael Bryce, but this is prototypical Reynolds, all sarcastic charm and self-loathing.
Bring them together: glib meets badass. They take a bullet-riddled road trip, Bryce trying to keep Kincaid safe long enough to testify against the former president of Belarus, a war criminal and all-around evildoer, played, naturally, by Gary Oldman.
Of course he is.
No, not a lot of acting muscles are being overworked in this one.
Writing muscles either, for that matter. The film coasts on mostly ludicrous but sometimes fun set pieces energized by the silly sniping happening as the Jackson/Reynolds bromance blossoms.
Director Patrick Hughes (Expendables 3 – did we know there were 3?) relies heavily on his cast and their individual brands. It’s like shorthand. No reason for character development, which is a good thing because scribe Tom O’Connor isn’t strong.
Hughes has trouble balancing the action, humor and unexpected romance. Reynolds’s security expert pines for the Interpol agent that left him; meanwhile, Jackson’s assassin misses his Mrs. (Salma Hayak, funny).
But, hey, do you like Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman? Because the three of them play the three of them in a disposable action comedy coming out this weekend.