The Hitman’s Bodyguard
What do you get when you put Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in a buddy-action-comedy-road-trip movie? Actually, you get a frequently funny, foul-mouthed, fairly fun film; and if you think that was a lot of f-words, wait until you hear the characters in this movie. The amount of swearing isn’t the only ridiculous thing in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, pretty much everything from action set pieces to character interactions are all ridiculous and played for laughs. This is a movie that knows exactly what it wants to be; one of those buddy action-comedies from the late eighties/early nineties that requires minimal thought for maximum enjoyment. Crazy thing is, despite being longer than needed and showcasing fairly average action set pieces, The Hitman’s Bodyguard largely succeeds. It consistently funny and entertaining from start to finish, largely due to the charisma, comedic timing, and chemistry of its two leads.
Samuel L. Jackson pretty much plays the same self he plays in those Capital One March Madness commercials with Charles Barkley and Spike Lee; only he gets to shoot guns, punch people, race around in cars and swear a whole lot more. Other than that though, it’s pretty much the same. Ryan Reynolds, meanwhile, plays a version of his Deadpool character that, oddly enough, is more restrained and yet just as funny. When these two are on screen together trading quips you can’t help but smile and laugh. The key to any good buddy comedy it comedic chemistry, and Reynolds and Jackson absolutely nail it. It takes a while for the movie to set things up and bring these two together, but when it does, things just click and the movie wisely doesn’t spend too much more time away from them or with them split up.
Truthfully, you remove those two from the equation, and the rest of the film is rather forgettable. The action set pieces are fine; they not spectacular, but they aren’t dull. They’re fun and serve their purpose, but they don’t really have any “wow” moments or do anything that impressive in this post-John Wick era. The rest of the characters are also serviceable but forgettable. There’s no doubt from the start who the obligatory mole is, the bad is just bad because that’s what he’s supposed to be (portrayed by a scene chewing Gary Oldman, playing a character that reminded me some of his bad guy from Air Force One), and the love interests are there to give our two leads someone to pine over, although I have to admit, Salma Hayek takes over the top, ridiculous swearing to a whole new level. So, in general this is a mediocre action film that’s elevated to fun and often very funny action film thanks entirely to the two leads.
Now, I would be hard pressed to say there’s anything truly virtuous in this movie, but there were a couple moments of unintentionally profound insight. One of them was towards the end of the movie as Samuel L. Jackson’s assassin closes in on killing the “real” bad guy of the move. The bad guy starts to taunt Jackson, telling him there’s no atonement for someone who’s done as much bad stuff as Jackson has in his life as an assassin. Killing one murderous despot, doing one heroic act, won’t be enough; there’s no redemption for men like Jackson’s character. That resonate with me because I just recently finished reading Acts chapter 9. In that chapter, a man who was actively seeking to destroy the church, who was destroying lives and families, and doing it all in the name of God, had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t appear to exact revenge; instead, Jesus appeared and told this man that he had other work to do, better work do. Jesus told this man he was now going to work for Jesus Christ. That encounter led Saul of Tarsus into redemption and salvation. He became Paul, and he wrote much of the New Testament. He said of himself that he was the chief of sinners, and yet, even a man like him was able to find redemption. The point being, there’s no such thing as someone being too far gone to receive redemption. There’s no such thing as doing too many bad things to atone for them. Jesus atoned for them, Jesus can redeem anyone, Jesus came to save us all from our past misdeed. So the bad guy was wrong, the fact is anyone can indeed be redeemed, no matter who they are. The key is, we have to accept it, we have to want it, we have to choose to let Jesus redeem. The good news is, anyone who does choose that can indeed receive redemption; even a hitman, or his body guard.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is certainly a flawed movie, but it’s hard to resist the chemistry of Reynolds and Jackson. They make the movie fun, they give it its spark, and they’re the main reason it’s watchable. Clearly this movie could have been tighter, shorter, and more focused. Still, it knows exactly what kind of movie it wanted to me, and it hits that mark just fine. That means it won’t be a movie for everyone; there’s a reason they don’t make those buddy-comedy-action flicks of the 90s anymore, but at least for the two hours of this movie, it was sure fun to relive that era.
Score: 5 of 7 (with a major caveat) – If you’re trying to write down the number of f-words and other curse words in this movie, you’re going to get carpel tunnel syndrome. Now, this is ridiculous, and it’s meant to be ridiculous, but nevertheless, that won’t make it any more palatable for some. So something to keep in mind. The movie is also fairly violent in parts, with some fairly graphic sprays of blood. However, it’s also a comedy, and it is really funny. Good action comedies are hard to come by, and this is the closest we’ve gotten to a really good one in quite some time. But, as I said, it’s for discerning viewers only.