THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD: This is the sort of action/quasi-buddy movie where thousands of bullets fly around without hitting any of the main characters and where everyone can figure out who the mole in Interpol is except the staff at Interpol. Geez, no wonder the Russians are calling all the shots in the world. The basic plot about a downgraded security “consultant” (Ryan Reynolds) called in to deliver a contract killer (Samuel L. Jackson) to an international court in The Hague to testify against a Belorussian strongman (Gary Oldman) accused of genocide is highly derivative and oh-so predictable. When Reynolds (DEADPOOL), reprising his persona as the capable smartass, tells Jackson (See CLOSING CREDITS.) that he’s never taken a bullet for a client you know that he’ll take one for his charge before the final reel. The multiple car chases and narrow escapes, while not terribly believable, are well-choreographed and staged with a definite panache. But there’s a conflict of tone throughout the film that intersperses sequences with singing nuns on a bus with descriptions of mass killings as well as the hitman’s oddball justification for his chosen profession. The love interests for the title characters are poorly fleshed out and portrayed as either a foul-mouthed Latina shrew (Salma Hayek) or an incompetent (Elodie Yung) whose failure at her job requires her to lean on the help of an old flame. What chemistry there is between the two males feels like a totally manufactured product that elicits the use of an obscenity in every other word of dialogue. Not that I have a problem with that (I work in media. Remember?) but it does get repetitive. This is the sort of flick that asks you not to think much about the logic of what’s transpiring so in a sense, it’s sort of presuming that you’re as brain-dead as this movie’s plot.
CRITIC’S GRADE: C
CLOSING CREDITS: Here are some far better movies starring Samuel L. Jackson over his long career - RAGTIME (1981), COMING TO AMERICA (1988), GOODFELLAS (1990), JUNGLE FEVER (1991), PATRIOT GAMES (1992), JURASSIC PARK (1993), MENACE II SOCIETY (1993), PULP FICTION (1994)*, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (1995), A TIME TO KILL (1996), TREES LOUNGE (1996), EVE’S BAYOU (1997), JACKIE BROWN (1997), THE NEGOTIATOR (1998), STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999), CHANGING LANES (2002), THE INCREDIBLES (2004), KILL BILL VOL. 2 (2004), STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005), THE AVENGERS (2012), DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012), CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014), THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)
*Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor