The Hitman's Bodyguard (R)

Action/Adventure 118 min. August 18, 2017
By Alan Scherstuhl
Any honest review of this film with flirt with tautology: If you like this sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like. Here's what Patrick Hughes' The Hitman's Bodyguard has going for it: It's exactly the movie it promises to be, but more so. It's more wild, more hilarious, more giddily irresponsible -- it's the hard R action comedy that kids sneaking into it might imagine it's going to be, minus '70s and '80s-style nudity. At any moment another chase or gunfight or burst of ludicrous violence might break out, in the streets of London or the canals of Amsterdam, all peppered with the inventive swearing of Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds and, in an extended cameo, a spectacularly filthy-mouth Salma Hayek. One of those vicious close-quarters brawls that destroys a restaurant kitchen (chucked cast-iron skillets, faces seared on the grill) gets immediately followed by an even madder one wrecking a hardware store (axes, nail guns).

It's all relentless in that never-stop never-stopping way, where the first big battle could have been the climax of a movie 15 years ago. At times, the continual cut-cut/shoot-shoot -- verbs that apply to both the filmmaking and the onscreen killing -- shakes entirely free from the concerns of storytelling. We're forever caught in sequences rather than a narrative, and when each extended set piece finally ends, some character gets tasked with reminding us that, oh yes, there's a plot going on that we're meant to recall and care about. But both actors talk fast and funny, each scoring lots of on-brand laughs, with Reynolds in his polite, profane motormouth mode, and Jackson as a jolly lover-man.
Patrick Hughes Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek Tom O'Connor Mark Gill, John Thompson, Matt O'Toole, Les Weldon Lionsgate

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