When it comes to this R-rated action comedy, the joke is all in the title. Professional killer-for-hire Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) needs bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) to protect him from England to the Hague, where the hit man is set to testify against a Belorussian tyrant (Gary Oldman, doing everything he can with a boxed-in role). In exchange, Darius’ wife, Sonia, will earn a get-out-of-jail-free card – she’s played by Salma Hayek, who’s almost excuse enough to see this movie. Her swearing is some kind of profane poetry. And boy, can she kick ass.
Did we mention that Darius and Michael really hate each other? So there’s that, plus tons of fights and car chases and boat chases to distract you from the recycled plot. The script by Tom O’Connor is a throwback to the glory days of Shane Black (The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight and the immortal Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), but unfortunately, Black isn’t around to do tune-ups. Patrick Hughes directs with all the originality and verve that you’d expect from the dude who gave us The Expendables 3. But all is not lost, not when Reynolds and Jackson are present and accounted for, constantly cracking wise. Can anyone wring more meaning out of the word “motherfucker” than Big Sam? It’s a rhetorical question.
And Reynolds may be doing his quips with the same sneer routine he deployed in Deadpool (minus the superhero drag), but it never gets old … or at least it hasn’t so far. Reynolds and Jackson make this summer lunacy go down easy with their banter and bullet-dodging skills. They’re the only reason that The Hitman’s Bodyguard doesn’t completely sink into the generic quicksand from whence it came.