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The Hitman's Bodyguard - DVD Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

IF THE pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson in a mis-matched buddy action-comedy seems appealing, then think again. Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Bodyguard is nothing more than a crass exercise in exploitative violence and profanity.

What’s more, it’s often sexist and misogynistic and is yet another film that tries to mine laughs/drama and fantasy out of scenarios that are a little too close to current headlines for comfort.

Reynolds stars as Michael Bryce , a slick bodyguard (or protection agent) whose plush business is derailed following the assassination of a top tier client. Languishing in self pity, Bryce is offered a shot at redemption by his ex-girlfriend (whom he blames for his fall from grace), so long as he can safely transport a high profile client to the European Court to testify against a dictator (Gary Oldman).

But when the client turns out to be Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a notorious hitman and long-time nemesis of Bryce’s, the job takes on more personal stakes, with other assassins on their trail.

Hughes film does, admittedly, offer the potential to deliver an alternative take on the mis-matched buddy scenario perfected by the likes of Shane Black, albeit within a highly ethically challenged world.

But its first mistake is to set it against a backdrop that is all too real – genocide – and then attempt to desensitise audiences to the actual horrors of what that word entails.

Hence, Oldman’s villain is a hysterically OTT, borderline pantomime baddie who summarily executes scores of his people (there are photos of him standing over mass graves)… a movie villain trading on real-world infamy. It’s the type of storytelling device that, for me, even Wonder Woman couldn’t pull off.

If Oldman’s dictator wasn’t bad enough, then a scene involving a lorry packed with explosives being driven into a crowd feels even more distasteful, especially since Hughes gets caught somewhere between spectacle and horror in the same way that Michael Bay did with Pearl Harbor.

Another of the movie’s big mistakes lies in its decision to make every set piece as hyper violent as possible and virtually every conversation profane. On the rare occasion the film stops long enough to allow its characters to confront the morality of what they do, The Hitman’s Bodyguard offers glimpses of what could have been (likewise, some of the comical stuff between Reynolds and Jackson).

But then Hughes, who cut his teeth with the underwhelming Expendables 3, steadfastly refuses to allow his actors any room to work before throwing in another mindless set piece, as well as a wholly unnecessary torture sequence and countless non-PC jokes that just aren’t funny.

It’s obvious where a lot of the film takes its inspiration from in terms of style (Deadpool) but it lacks the finesse to pull it off. And in doing so, it also leaves its leading duo to flounder, with Reynolds coasting on that Deadpool persona for most of the time and Jackson also wheeling out his loud, sweary, mother-f***er routine. Oldman, meanwhile, seems content to phone it in, while Salma Hayek is wasted in a nonsensical prison-based role.

One or two decent moments aside, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a wholly unsavoury experience.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 1hr 58mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: December 11, 2017