Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds team up for this summer's "odd couple on the run" flick.
Third Brother Films made headlines recently when it was announced they would be releasing Generational Sins, a faith-based film with 32 (yes, somebody counted) instances of profanity in it. Perhaps it was inevitable that the occasional cuss word would finally find its way into the faith-based genre, but 32 of them in one film is somewhat surprising. Not so with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, the new movie starring Samuel L. Jackson. For the ever-loquacious Jackson, whose reputation for delivering profanity-laced verbal patter precedes him, 32 expletives come as no surprise at all. They are, in fact, just a warm-up for what’s to follow.
That’s not to say The Hitman’s Bodyguard relies solely on a flurry of four-letter words to garner its laughs. More so than the casual cussing, the movie leans on one of the oldest tropes in the industry, that of the odd couple on the run. It’s a tried and true formula that’s worked consistently over the decades in everything from Midnight Run to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This time around, it’s Ryan Reynolds and the aforementioned Jackson as the mismatched duo forced to work together or face certain doom.
Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a meticulous planner who was once the world’s top man in the field of personal security until the assassination of a high-profile client ruined his reputation. Jackson plays Bryce’s polar opposite, hitman Darius Kincaid, a man who never met a plan he didn’t disdain. As the best in their respective fields, the two have crossed paths numerous times over the years, developing an intense dislike for each other along the way.
The unlikely pair are brought together after Bryce’s ex-girlfriend, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), runs afoul of hired killers while trying to deliver Kincaid to The Hague to testify against the brutal dictator, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). At Roussel’s urging, Bryce very reluctantly agrees to step in and ensure his long-time nemesis reaches the courtroom safely. Bloody chaos ensues as the two sworn enemies argue their way across multiple continents with Dukhovich’s men in hot pursuit.
Amidst all the gunplay, car crashes, and verbal abuse that follows, the movie does try to take time to bring a little heart to the proceedings. Both men, it turns out, have only agreed to take the perilous journey out of love for the respective women in their lives. Though Bryce unreasonably blames his ex for all his recent misfortunes, he still desperately wants her back. For his part, Kincaid has only agreed to appear in court and face incarceration because doing so will earn his equally obscene wife (Salma Hayek) an early release from prison.
This connection leads to some interesting conversations between the two men. Profanity-filled conversations to be sure, but interesting all the same. In one somber moment, Kincaid reflects on the incident that jumpstarted his career as a contract killer. After witnessing the murder of a preacher while still a teenager, the young Kincaid grew impatient waiting on God to deliver justice and took matters into his own hand. From that moment forward, Kincaid accepted any job that allowed him to dispatch those he saw as deserving to die, while at the same time refusing to kill innocent men for clients like Dukhovich.
The story is obviously presented to help us sympathize with Kincaid to some degree. After all, most audiences will put up with a plethora of F-bombs, but they aren’t as keen to cheer for an amoral monster. Thankfully, through Bryce’s character, the movie doesn’t entirely let Kincaid off the hook for his questionable moral code. And it is nice that the film takes a minute to slip in a small message amongst the mayhem that desperation and a lack of faith can lead to a lifetime of bad choices. It’s just for a minute, though, then it’s right back to fussing and fighting.
There’s nothing new in this movie. If you’ve seen one action comedy in which two antagonists hit the road together and begrudgingly come to a mutual respect, then you’ve already seen The Hitman’s Bodyguard. It’s a time-killer designed for an evening’s entertainment and nothing more. Be warned, though, if 32 cuss words is your absolute limit, be prepared to leave after the first five minutes.