The Hitman’s Bodyguard

(2.5 / 5)

It has been 35 years since the release of 48 Hrs, the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte transport film that set a new standard for the buddy action film. There are other examples throughout cinematic history, but this was the film that took this genre from the farcical comedy to a mature action film that incorporated the comic genius of Eddie Murphy. It is this film and others that have established the precedence for The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but does this latest manifestation set a new standard or is it merely a reflexion of the past?

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) has known the exceptional highs and lows of the field of executive protection. He was the owner of a triple A rated agency until one incident damaged his reputation within this business field. He continues in this line of work, but was regulated to a less than savoury clientele until he is contacted by his ex-girlfriend for some help. Amelia (Élodie Yung) is an Interpol agent who has been left with the responsibility of transporting a valuable and high-risk witness to the international trial of the tyrannical dictator of Belarus, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). When she loses the support network from the agency, she has no choice but to contact Michael for help in delivering the world renowned hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), to testify against Dukhovich. Her plan is hindered by her fallout with her former boyfriend and the fact that Michael and Darius have a professional history that limits their ability to cooperate with one another during the journey to the Netherlands. They must work through their differences while they attempt to stay ahead of the dictator’s hit squad who are trying to keep Kincaid from the trial.

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have built acting careers on their mastery of a turn of phrase. This unique skill has brought about iconic characters like Deadpool and Nick Fury, as well as some historic monologues. To let these two loose with a script, putting them into the ultra-violent setting of assassins and a body count that would make Quentin Tarrantino envious, has the potential for cinematic gold. Which begs the question, what went wrong? 

The key challenge with this formula is that these strong actors still need direction and the man in the director’s chair needs to set the bar for some restraint. Australian director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) capitalises on his lead actors skills and comedic chemistry, but he fails to edit down the action that drives the storyline along. The heavy reliance on the impromptu dialogue must have caused such a distraction on set that Hughes forgot to go to the editing room. The action and stunts are good, but the expectation for the audience to come along for the ride for two hours quickly turns from a fun joyride into an arduous road trip. The jokes become laboured and the fact that the trained military forces are unable to apprehend this elusive pair stretches all manner of believability. A ruthless session in the editing room could have saved this film from mediocrity and predictability, as well as the bruising experience for the audience.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard hits the mark for the university fraternity house crowd with the language and violent content. Reynolds and Jackson deliver on their on-screen chemistry, but this exhausting and prolonged excursion will test the limits of their fanbase.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film? 

Redemption: an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed. Deliverance from sin; salvation.

The idea of redemption is a driving force in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. It becomes apparent that a motivation for Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid is to find atonement for their lifestyle choices. One desires to redeem his relationship with his love and another looks to deliver others from their past sins.

These are some of life’s basic needs. Acceptance, forgiveness and redemption. Travelling through life, most of us come to a point of seeking redemption for various things that we have done. Trying to find a means of rectifying the wrongs we have done to people, society or God. This is a concept that can be found at the heart of the Bible’s message. Jesus’ life and death provide a special type of redemption that is readily available to anyone who is willing to accept it.

This brings about two questions: 

Are you seeking redemption in your life and have you considered Jesus as the answer?

Verses on the topic of redemption: 

Psalm 111:9, John 3:16, Romans 3:24-26, Ephesians 1:7

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.