Director: Patrick Hughes
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung
Released: 17th August 2017(UK)
I’ll level with you, kids: I used to really dislike Ryan Reynolds.
I did enjoy Buried and The Proposal, but a lot of my negativity understandably stemmed from the butchering of Deadpool in X-Men: Origins and the disastrous Green Lantern film, of which Reynolds was a symptom but not the point of origin. Anyway – I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong, and since 2016’s Deadpool, I’ve been a convert. Reynolds has gone to the Channing Tatum school of changing my perception, and as of 2017, he’s one of the funniest leading men working in Hollywood. As such, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which sees him team up with the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, has been one of the most hotly-anticipated comedies of the year.
I went into the screening not knowing much about it – I hadn’t even seen the trailer. I’d heard some buzz online, but that was it, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect, particularly given that director Patrick Hill’s last film was The Expendables 3. I’m pleased to report that The Hitman’s Bodyguard redeems Hill from that Razzie-awarding-winning disaster. It’s a manic, hilarious, exceptionally violent action comedy that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Ryan Reynolds plays a disgraced bodyguard, offered a job by his Interpol ex-girlfriend (Daredevil’s Elodie Yung) to protect assassin-turned-witness Samuel L Jackson, testifying against an Eastern European war criminal in order to win his wife’s freedom. With Salma Hayek playing Jackson’s wife and Gary Oldman on top form as the deranged villain, the stage was really set for success, but I was pleasantly surprised that The Hitman’s Bodyguard is more than your average shoot-em-up flick with a cursory joke thrown in.
So let’s talk about the cast – Ryan Reynolds’ Michael Bryce is pitched as the straight man to Samuel L Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, a slightly unhinged gun-for-hire. Their chemistry together is brilliant, and they bounce off each other perfectly. The film reminded me of two other recent action-comedies that exceeded my expectations: 21 Jump Street and Spy, both of which succeeded on the strength of their script and casting. It was also refreshing to see two female characters who are every bit as badass as their male counterparts – Elodie Yung and Salma Hayek hold their own, and Hayek in particular is a total scene-stealer as Sonia Kincaid.
Then there’s Gary Oldman, who always excels when he’s playing the villain, but not since his turn in Leon: The Professional has he been as menacing as he is as Vladislav Dukhovich. Allusions are made to contemporary politics, and although The Hitman’s Bodyguard is most definitely a comedy, it’s hard to not feel uncomfortable knowing that Dukhovich’s actions do not exist in a Hollywood bubble.
Whilst The Hitman’s Bodyguard might not be the most original comedy ever made, it certainly holds its own in a crowded market, and it’s a riotous way to spend two hours. There’s gross-out violence, a manic Richard E. Grant cameo (he pops up in everything at the moment, doesn’t he?) and plenty of laughs – and if anything, it’s a strong case for a Deadpool and Nick Fury team-up soon.