The Hitman’s Bodyguard sounds like it ought to sit alongside Snakes On A Plane and Cleaner in Samuel L. Jackson’s enormous CV. In fact, this film’s offbeat humour elevates it to the action-comedy corner, somewhere between Kingsman and The Incredibles.
We first meet Ryan Reynolds’ deadpan bodyguard, Michael Bryce, as his career is shot down along with a high-powered client. He’s at his lowest ebb when an ex in the Secret Service forces him to escort Samuel L. Jackson’s inked-up assassin, Darius Kincaid, to Holland so he can testify in a war criminal’s trial and attain a pardon for his wrongly imprisoned wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek). If Bryce does his job right, he has a shot at regaining his ‘triple A’ protection status: everybody wins.
Although predictable, the clashes between Jackson’s gung-ho killer and Reynolds’ cautious protector create sparks. During their manic road trip to Amsterdam, they take jabs at each other with aggressively bad singing, and have wildly different experiences hitchhiking in a bus full of nuns. The film even finds itself navigating moments of moral philosophy with Jackson’s assassin: “Who is more evil?” he asks Bryce. “He who kills evil motherf**kers, or he who protects them?”
Adding a romantic edge is Kincaid’s obsession with relationships, allowing for some memorably kick-ass scenes by Kincaid and Bryce’s respective flames. Buried in the mix is a masterful Amsterdam chase sequence crammed with beautiful tracking shots and surreal humour. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is not a complicated film, but it remains constantly surprising thanks to its consistent refusal to obey generic rules.