Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Movie review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard, dir Patrick Hughes (2017)

This light-hearted action flic is a vehicle for a jazzy Samuel L Jackson playing a hitman named Darius Kincaid, who is wanted by prosecutors to appear as a witness at the International Criminal Court for the trial of a Belorussian dictator named Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Dukhovich is a bloodthirsty tyrant and a posse of henchmen is dedicated to wiping out Kincaid on his journey from Manchester, where Interpol has a headquarters, to the Hague.

To help get Kincaid to his destination, Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), conscripts a bodyguard named Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), who plays a straight bat as Jackson riffs off his homeboy persona, made famous in one scene in the Quentin Tarantino movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994).

The two men had fallen out long before the story that begins the movie started, due to an incident that caused Bryce to lose his status as a top bodyguard. They return to this subject in conversations from time to time during their journey together in cars, on foot, and on a ferry, heading toward Kincaid’s date with destiny.

The filmmakers pump Jackson’s wisecracking for all it’s worth, but this movie hangs together despite the wear and tear that this kind of treatment metes out to your credulity. I enjoyed the film, though it won’t last over time and will not be considered a high point for any of the leads, including Salma Hayek, who plays Kincaid’s wife Sonia.

Looking more broadly, the film is an homage to America’s position as global policeman. The Eastern European angle combines with a South American angle to add local colour to the familiar as embodied in the dialogue between Reynolds and Jackson, two Americans bound by honour to carry out their assigned roles. As knockabout heroes with compromised morals, Kincaid and Bryce stand in for two sides of America’s self-image: rough diamonds with the ability to kick ass. The film, which is available on Netflix, is a celebration and a bit of harmless fun but better things could have been made with the money that was spent on it.

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