The Hitman's Bodyguard (2 stars)

The Hitman's Bodyguard

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson join forces for a buddy actioner that doesn't quite pop

If you squint hard enough at this Ryan Reynolds / Samuel L Jackson action comedy it's just possible to imagine it as a Deadpool / Nick Fury team-up, complete with lashings of colourful language and comic book levels of violence. However, while both Reynolds and Jackson play to the strengths of their established screen personas, the chemistry between them isn't quite as winning as the film seems to think it is.

Directed by Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3, Red Hill), the film centres on Michael Bryce (Reynolds), an elite bodyguard tasked with transporting imprisoned assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to The Hague, where he has agreed to testify against vicious Russian warlord Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). It quickly transpires that Kincaid is more than capable of looking after himself and the pair bicker constantly as they head from London to The Hague, pursued by Dukhovich's gun-toting goons.

On paper, Reynolds and Jackson are an appealing combination, but in practice there's an odd imbalance, with Reynolds underplaying his usual sarcasm and Jackson going awkwardly over the top, so that the buddy dynamic never gels the way it should. Part of the problem is Tom O'Connor's sub-par screenplay, which fails to bring any spark to the dialogue and settles for shouting and swearing instead.

On the plus side, Hughes maintains a decent pace throughout and packs the film with passable action, ensuring that you're never more than a few moments away from a punch-up, car chase, explosion or hail of bullets. However, the undisputed highlight is the presence of a very sweary Salma Hayek as Kincaid's imprisoned wife, particularly during an amusing flashback sequence in which Kincaid wistfully recalls falling in love with her as she viciously beats up a bar full of men. Best viewed as a throwback to old-fashioned buddy flicks, The Hitman's Bodyguard is never less than watchable, but let down by a dearth of imagination.

General release from Fri 18 Aug.

The Hitman's Bodyguard

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 58min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Patrick Hughes
  • Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek
  • UK release: 18 August 2017

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is an elite bodyguard tasked with transporting imprisoned assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to the Hague, to testify against a Russian warlord. Hilarious mismatched buddy hi-jinks disappointingly fail to ensue. Hayek has a nice role as Kincaid’s very sweary wife, though.