Trying to mine comedy out brutal, flagrant and excessively bloody murder is the trump card that The Hitman’s Bodyguard aims for. It fails entirely. This wholly uninspiring film is brutally violent, incoherent, irritating and painfully unfunny.
The older I get, the harder I am finding it to correlate what’s entertaining in the excessive use of gun violence in cinema and it being digestible for all and sundry. The utterly horrendous first trailer for Eli Roth’s unnecessary remake of Death Wish stands as a testament to how perversely skewed and revolting American cinema’s obsession with brutal gun violence is. Here it is given full license to kill. And kill it does, without consequence.
The wafer thin gimmick of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that a disgraced bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds doing a half asleep Deadpool without a mask) is landed the prestigious job of protecting an internationally wanted assassin (Samuel L Jackson doing a half assed Samuel L Jackson impression) after a particularly brutal botched attempt to kill him. The gig, get Sammy L to the Hague to testify against a Belarus dictator (A what-are-you-doing-in-this? Gary Oldman) before an army of Russian hitmen try and take him out.
Directed by Australian gun for hire Patrick Hughes, the man behind The Expendables 3 and Red Hill, the film seems to be more star struck by its two leads, relying them to do what ‘they do’, rather than actually direct them. Granted, comedy is hard, but Hughes has no idea how to navigate this substandard material.
Salma Hayek is equally as wasted as a fruitily tongued love interest, simply being typecast into the American cinema requirement of the foul mouthed latino. Elodie Yong (The Defenders) gets little redemption as the FBI agent/former love interest for Reynolds in a one note character. The pair are just window dressing for the two hander body count driver.
Erratically shot and ponderous in its pacing, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is truly one of the most violent films in recent memory. People are murdered left, right and centre without any justification, ramifications or consequence. There’s no meaning to any of it. Most all of them die for comedic factor. And, as I sat in the cinema with people giggling at these horrifically unjustified acts of mayhem, a cold shiver swept over my body as I thought – Is this what entertainment for the masses looks like these days?
THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD releases NATIONALLY on Thursday