Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Hitman's Bodyguard

Title: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:

Lisa: Would you bullies be interested in some bodyguard work?
Nelson: Oh, this is so funny, we were just talking about moving into protection.

Brief Plot Synopsis: Tight-ass protects wise-ass from ass...assination.

Rating Using Random Objects Related to the Film: Three cockroaches out of five.

click to enlarge COCKROACH CENTRAL
Cockroach Central

“Everyone's out to get them... If they don't kill each other first.”

Better Tagline: "Samuel L. Jackson is not too old for this shit."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Once a "triple A" executive protection agent, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) has fallen on hard times, scraping by with bodyguarding the occasional cocaine-snorting lawyer. Enter ex-girlfriend Amelia Rossel (Élodie Yung), an Interpol agent attempting to escort notorious hired killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the Hague to testify against Byelorussian strongman Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Roussel needs an independent operator to get Kincaid to the tribunal, thanks to a mole inside Interpol. Trouble is, Bryce and Kincaid have their own unbrotherly history.

“Critical” Analysis: Reports of the demise of the “buddy cop” genre have been somewhat exaggerated. The archetype – pairing up detectives from different departments and/or with varying levels of experience – was never an ironclad rule, but of late it’s been increasingly phased out in favor of alternative combinations. A private investigator and an enforcer (The Nice Guys), say, or two guys who aren’t even actual police (Let’s Be Cops). The Hitman’s Bodyguard continues in this vein, and it's a success, if a qualified one.

For starters, Reynolds is not at all in his comfort zone. Playing the sarcastic asshole is his bread and butter; trouble is, it’s also Jackson’s, and he’s much better at it. While Jackson is having the time of his life being an inerrant shot and effortlessly enfilading his surroundings with profanity, Reynolds is forced to assume the role of tightly wound Bryce, with only a few opportunities to cut loose. It isn’t that Reynolds is especially bad at this, it’s just that he *so* obviously wants to be the other guy.

The most satisfying extended car chase since 'The Bourne Supremacy.'

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What The Hitman’s Bodyguard does have going for it are nifty locations (London, Amsterdam), some righteous fight choreography (Reynolds is definitely the more accomplished in this category), and the most satisfying extended car chase since The Bourne Supremacy. Oh, and then there’s Salma Hayek, playing Kincaid’s imprisoned wife Sonia.

Sonia is, much like her husband, a foul-mouthed engine of mayhem. Her role is a minor one, seeing as she spends the bulk of the movie in a cell berating anyone who comes near her. However, she does provide focus for Darius, who genuinely loves her and wants her freed. Hayek never been the strongest actress, Frida notwithstanding, and her constant stream of f-bombs are delivered with the awkwardness of someone who doesn’t use them often, but she’s also 50 freaking years old and still more beautiful than most actresses half her age.

Maybe that ‘bathing in the blood of the young’ is no joke. Has anyone heard from Ashely Benson lately?

It would be interesting to see if Tom O’Connor’s original script was as heavy on the gun fu that’s all the rage with the Kids These Days or if director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3…yeah) was gently coerced into John Wick-ing it up. The first version of the screenplay was apparently much more dramatic, which seems inconceivable given the co-stars, but also might have worked better in context. Without proper grounding (Oldman sleepwalks through this, and the Interpol informant will be apparent to anyone who’s watched a military/political thriller in the last 30 years), The Hitman’s Bodyguard threatens to devolve into absurdity.

But Jackson and Reynolds have sufficient chemistry, and the aforementioned mayhem is impressive enough to earn a recommendation. The Hitman's Bodyguard won't be mistaken for one of Shane Black's finest, but it does carve out a sanguinary niche all its own.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar