Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds
The Hitman’s Bodyguard hopes you forgot about Midnight Run—or are young enough to not even know the Robert De Niro-Charles Grodin team-up exists—and pairs Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in a very familiar though not quite nauseatingly stale action-comedy. Reynolds stars as Michael Bryce, a disgraced AAA-rated executive protection agent (i.e., a bodyguard). Jackson is Bryce’s nemesis, a wild, indestructible hitman named Darius Kincaid, who has sought to kill more than one of Bryce’s charges. Now Bryce must protect Kincaid from the army of thugs sent after him by Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), who is currently on trial in The Hague. Somehow, Kincaid is the world’s only witness to Dukhovich’s genocidal rule.
Unfortunately for middling action flicks like this one, John Wick has raised the bar for cinematic violence. The rote choreography of The Hitman’s Bodyguard certainly grades out technically high, but lacks the creativity of its multiple high-octane vehicle chases, the standout of which involves a canal in Amsterdam. Reynolds and Jackson in a road-trip action-comedy is a superb idea, and the movie does get the most it can from its leads, even if Reynolds has to work a little harder than usual as the uptight Felix in this odd-couple pairing; the strain on his easygoing persona is visible. If either star’s standard shtick is not your thing, The Hitman’s Bodyguard will not change your mind. You know exactly what you are getting with this kind of conventional action movie, so expectations and reality should align fairly well.