Without Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson, The Hitman’s Bodyguard probably wouldn’t be watchable as a film. The script is generic, the action scenes are only decent and there’s this weird tone in the film where Gary Oldman’s bad guy character seems more suited for a serious film than a comedy. Despite all those issues, I still found myself enjoying the film. And that’s because this film basically just lets Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson be themselves and that is more than enough for a few laughs.
The plot is simple, Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is a (former) "Triple-A" rated executive protection agent (bodyguard). His ex, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) calls him up with an urgent request after her Interpol convoy escorting assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to court is attacked. Kincaid is the star witness in the trial against former dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Oldman). Dukhovich is using all of his resources to stop Kincaid from making it to court. Bryce and Kincaid are paired off to make the trek to court with other assassins and hijinks along the way. It’s a standard plot and you can figure out how this is going to go.
The biggest problem with this movie is that there aren’t any shocks. You’ll immediately know who the mole in Interpol is. You’ll figure out the twist between Kincaid/Bryce/Roussel. It’s paint by numbers. All of the other characters in the film are criminally under developed and because the film is 118 minutes, you notice it. Elodie Yung is underutilized in her role and virtually disappears in the middle of the film. Gary Oldman is great as always but takes the role so seriously it feels he was told this film was more serious than what was actually filmed. Salma Hayek is in the film playing…well…Selma Hayek (should we have the discussion about how she can’t act now or should we just let this continue to ride?).
But as I mentioned, Sam Jackson and Ryan Reynolds are great together. I wouldn’t be surprised if its revealed that a significant portion of their dialogue (or at least the insults they hurl at each other) were adlib. Everyone knows that the unofficial catchphrase of Sam Jackson is the word “motherfucker” used in various inflections and situations. He doesn’t disappoint. The film feels more like a buddy cop movie. Reynolds playing the careful, meticulous and overly planned partner to Jackson’s foul mouth, rule breaking character. These two have all the makings of a classic buddy cop film.
Unfortunately, outside of their interactions and comedy, the film is just hollow. Audiences who wanted to see this film will more than likely laugh and enjoy themselves but once they leave the theater, they'll probably forget most of the film.