The Hitman’s Bodyguard movie cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman
The Hitman’s Bodyguard movie director: Patrick Hughes
The Hitman’s Bodyguard movie rating: 2
One must acknowledge the audacity of writer Tom O’Connor in penning a story about a hitman and a bodyguard, and positing it as putting a dictator behind bars. That dictator is the president of Belarus, a country that, the film helpfully tells us, for no reason at all, is “ex-Soviet Union”. So, you know, it has the kind of president who goes about killing rivals/enemies/dissidents with everything from mysterious poisons to gigantic trucks.
Clearly, O’Connor has been reading up ex-USSR history. But poisons make for a film much too delicate for this one’s taste, particularly when the budget allows trucks to wreak the mayhem.
Which is why, when a crucial witness against that Belarusian president (played by Gary Oldman), who is a hitman with a conscience (Jackson), needs to travel from Manchester to the Hague to be brought before the International Criminal Court, the bodyguard chosen to escort him (Reynolds) decides to drive all of the 470-plus km (roads, rails, waters). No helicopter etc.
The film hinges on this long drive. Besides other cliches such as the banter that results when a hitman in the old style meets a bodyguard of the new kind, with the fancy title of “AAA-rated executive protection agent”. The first is all heart, the latter is all mind; and it has little to do with the fact that in the unfortunate and ridiculous role of the hitman’s incarcerated, foul-mothed, abusive lover is Hayek. She gets one decent scene, where the film tries to make the most of that much-exploited sexy Spanish persona, from her bosom and butt to her accent. Reynolds, who is the most effortless in this nonsensical role, gets a girlfriend half-as-interesting. She is an Interpol agent, but when push comes to shove, she swears in French. By this film’s standards, that is enough.
In parts, and very small parts, the banter between Jackson and Reynolds, two indisputably charismatic actors, is funny and makes you forget a lot else that is going around them. But there is just too much going around.
The bodyguard played by Reynold keeps repeating, ad infinitum, why he has survived as long as he has in this business. By being safe. “Boring is best,” he advises. Well sometimes, it’s good enough.