The Hitman’s Bodyguard is the third feature film from Patrick Hughes who is better known for his work on the third Expendables film. Hughes does not leave his style as he directs Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in an action-comedy that had a lot of positive steam as it charged its way to the cinema towards the end of this summer. The film does not lack big names in the supporting category either as Salma Hayek and even Gary Oldman lay some foundation for the film. Centered around a trial on crimes against humanity, Reynolds (bodyguard) needs to escort Jackson (hitman) across central Europe to testify in this trial as Oldman’s goons hunt them down. Yes, it is just as simple as that description.
Reynolds and Jackson: The two stars in this film have basically established their careers long ago. Which is a good reason why The Hitman’s Bodyguard seemed like a smash hit. Reynolds delivers a far better performance than Jackson as his very common “Canadian” persona. It is loveable, laughable and relatable. Reynolds is able to curve the audience's attention to him in every scene. And his fight choreography shines through in this film. Jackson, however, makes you think that there was no script for his role. His delivery on lines and what can only be assumed as a lot of improvisation is unoriginal, overly vulgar and lacks any comedy. This is not the perfectly placed vulgarity that Jackson often has in a Tarantino film, but instead his own free range decisions on when to drop an F-bomb. And it does not work.
Awkward Tones: The Hitman’s Bodyguardnever seemed to have a grasp on what genre it wanted to officially be a part of. I only described this film as an action-comedy because this is what most audiences going into the film would think due to the advertising. Instead, the script asks for the actors to switch between being funny, romantic poetic, serious and terrifying within a 20-minute span, several times. Gary Oldman, who is recognized for his limited roles as bad guys (think True Romance and Leon: The Professional), delivered a scary and serious character that really belonged in a good James Bond film. But instead, the character is thrown into an attempted laugh riot and throws off the focus of the film.
All the Wrong Things: Runtime, vulgarity, forced romance and musical score are thrust into this film in order to try and make it something that it never needed the intention to be. The Hitman’s Bodyguardshould have been a great comedy duo putting on a fun show, something that could be watched on cable TV in a few years when you are bored on a Sunday. The first mistake is you have the wrong director. Patrick Hughes does not have a lot of film experience and I cannot help but think if someone like Matthew Vaughn or Martin McDonagh were at the helm of this film, it would have been the hit of the summer. Hughes can easily bounce back from this, but only if he stays in the focus of what he knows which is just non-stop action, which obviously has a market in the industry.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an oversaturation of what Sam Jackson wanted to do and Reynolds attempting to save each scene. But with the wrong director and no foundational tone, the film falls off the map into the pit that is summer movie failures.