Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
Written by Tom O’Connor
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek and more
Grade: Three and a half stars
This is the movie I've been waiting for ever since "Lethal Weapon."
"The Hitman's Bodyguard" is a gem of well-balanced comedic action, beautifully pulling off all my favorite genre tropes (and nicely subverting a few others) in a way I thought Hollywood had forgotten how to do. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are just as delightful together as you'd expect them to be, snarking their way towards an unlikely bond as they shoot, stab and blow up pretty much everything around them.
The plot starts with Reynolds' character, the former owner of a protection agency who loses his career when someone assassinates his target. He's stuck taking much less savory jobs when his ex- girlfriend insists that he protect an assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) being sent to testify against a war criminal in an international court. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is the same assassin who has tried to kill him numerous times, and the two are far more likely to kill each other before anyone else gets the chance.
The movie is just as funny as you'd expect from Reynolds and Jackson, though it's less of a parody than some of the trailers make it seem. The humor lies more in the one-liners, the actors' delivery and comic timing, and a handful of beautifully absurd sequences I don't dare describe for fear I'll ruin them for you.
That doesn't mean there aren't serious moments, however. The movie pulls no punches when it comes to showing how evil the former dictator on trial is, and there are a few scenes that are more intense than some people might expect out of a Ryan Reynolds movie.
Thankfully, there's also several very high-quality action scenes full of all the punching, kicking and shooting an action- lover could hope for. A multi-vehicle, multilevel chase scene is probably the best, though I have a soft spot for the one-on-one fights.
Reynolds and Jackson have excellent chemistry together, enough so that I'm amazed no one's thought to put them together in a movie before now. Salma Hayek is a delight as Jackson's wife, taking over the screen any moment she's on it.
My one knock against the movie is they didn't let Elodie Yung in on the mayhem. Anyone who saw her in Netflix's "Daredevil" knows how great she is at fight scenes, but here her character is painted as a newbie who mostly needs to be saved. Yung's acting was excellent, but I was disappointed I didn't get to see her kick anyone in the head.
Still, that's a small quibble when you're dealing with a movie this entertaining. If you've been looking for a fun, deeply satisfying action movie, then "The Hitman's Bodyguard" is one road trip of death and destruction you definitely don't want to miss.