Anton Chekhov is reputed to have said “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” The Russian playwright was clearly far from the minds of the team behind The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
Director Patrick Hughes and writer Tom O’Connor insist on explaining and examining everything their characters do. This transforms what should be a breezy, funny buddy comedy into a long yet instantly forgettable shelf-filler. Rather than allowing the naturally comedic actors to flourish and bounce off one another, their dialogue and narratives are awkward and forced. Subtlety is far from the key objective here, but not every audience member needs to be spoon-fed the entire plot. Trust the actors. Show, don’t tell.
Beyond this, the film is strangely paced, unsure of when to go fast and slow, and unaware of the strength of its assets. Worse still, it is flat-out lazy at times with the graphics, score and introductory shots all falling well below the expected standards of even the most basic blockbuster.
Thank goodness for Samuel L. Jackson. Ryan Reynolds does the best with what he can; he’s still just being Ryan Reynolds, though. This is Jackson’s show. The actor is the last sheriff at the saloon, fighting off a thousand bandits, armed with just one weapon: the word “motherf*cker”. It’s not big and it’s not clever, but it works. Jackson is an engaging, hilarious presence throughout and carries the entire film. It’s just a shame he’s so deeply restricted by the hand he’s dealt.
There’s an okay supply of jokes and impressive stunts, but this is nowhere near as funny as it should be. Oddly paced, and poorly made, this film is more than lucky to have Samuel L. Jackson as its star.
CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek, Gary Oldman
DIRECTOR: Patrick Hughes
WRITER: Tom O’Connor
SYNOPSIS: The world’s top bodyguard (Reynolds) gets a new client, a hitman (Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time.