The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) – Review

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One of them is a meticulous, by-the-numbers bodyguard with only one failure on his record. The other is a happy-go-lucky, internationally-wanted assassin. Can they learn to work together? Can they deal with corrupt cops, genocidal tyrants, and their own tangled love lives?

The ICC case against Belarusian dictator Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is on the verge of collapse, due to a mysterious fatality issue with all of the witnesses. Only one man is brave enough to take the stand: Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), unrepentant hitman. When Interpol’s attempts to get him to the Hague are foiled by inside men and Russian gangsters, it’s up to a disgraced bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) to keep him alive long enough to testify.

This is a buddy-cop film, just on the other side of the law. There’s a strait-laced partner who needs to lighten up, and wild one who needs to settle down. They argue, fall out, and eventually learn to rely on each other. Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds play their immensely likeable selves, and have a convincing dynamic. Salma Hayek is Samuel L. Jackson’s foul-mouthed and incarcerated wife; she clearly enjoys the role.

The film is set primarily in England and the Netherlands, but a very American conception of the two of them. English streets erupt into gunfire, armed police are everywhere, and all of this is treated as relatively normal, rather than the most shocking thing to happen in England in decades. It’s the sort of thing that I find quite annoying in serious films, but this is a comedy, and the conceit is necessary for the action sequences and betrayals that the plot requires.

The action sequences, of which there are many, are well-shot and satisfying. A lot of them are set to music; it’s the same studied, balletic violence that you get in films like Mr and Mrs Smith. As always, it’s vastly preferable to shaking cameras and confused screaming.

This is not a film that surprises. You can call the ending early on, point out the twists before each one happens. That’s not a bad thing; each line and action clicks pleasingly together with the next. Just like the action sequences, the whole thing is well put together and crafted.

I really liked this. It’s funny and exciting and uncomplicated. You never get too worried for the characters, and everything wraps up happily and neatly at the end. I’d recommend it.

Buy it here. Or watch it on Netflix.

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