Despite largely depicting Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson trying to one up each other to prove who does it better, the bodyguard or the assassin, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was actually a decent watch. Was it the best film of 2017? No, but it was certainly enjoyable and I would watch it again for certain.
Admittedly, although there are some funny moments towards the beginning, it does a take a little while to warm up in the comedy department. At approximately a quarter of the way through is when you start to actually laugh properly. The stand out moment for me is when Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is unexpectedly thrown through the windscreen of the car, does some kind of somersault and stands up dazed and confused as to what the hell just happened, at this point I really was crying with laughter. Factor in the running joke of Sonia Kincaid’s (Selma Hayek) subordinate jail mate (Donna Preston) repeatedly being made to stand in the corner throughout all scenes – at one point being allowed a five minute break-, and I genuinely did find myself laughing throughout. I think in order for the first quarter to have been funnier, they should have introduced to the audience why Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) and Michael hated each other so much. During their fighting scene when the two meet, I was too busy being confused as to what their background was, instead of laughing at the fight going on between them.
On a more serious note, the film does depict some serious moral issues quite well. For starters, the conundrum of leaving justice to the law or taking it into your own hands is explored and questioned when the reason Kincaid started his assassination business was to avenge his father who was murdered in his own church. The audience is left to wonder, who really is the bad guy here? Kincaid who kills the bad guys, or Michael who protects them. This is made clear in the confrontation between Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) and Kincaid, when the former (who has committed atrocities) calls out the later saying al he will be is another “dead body on a pile” to him in the end. What is more troubling is the acts against humanity Dukhovich carries out all in the name of him being the President/Dictator of Belarus. He has managed to avoid justice by intimidating into silence or killing the ones who could potentially testify against him. It really comes to light how deranged his is when he calls that he recognises no higher power than himself thus cannot be tried for these crimes. It shows the extent what lengths power crazy dictators will go to stay in power. But what is most troubling when watching this, is recognising that this aspect is not fiction. Yes Dukhovich is not real, but there have been plenty leaders like him – and unfortunately there likely will be again- and the atrocities he carries out (such as slaughtering whole villages of innocents) are all too familiar in this world.
Ideally, I would have liked to see more of Gary Oldman in the role of Dukhovich. Not only because he is undoubtedly one of my favourite actors, but it would have lent more gravity to the evil character he was portraying. More time is spent on the scenes getting Kincaid to the hearing on time as yes it does mean a more exciting, funny and action packed film. But unfortunately, the weight of Dukhovich’s actions are lost because his character is undeveloped due to not enough screen time. I have no doubt that Oldman could have portrayed the most despicable man to completion, but this character growth was lost in favour of some more gags and action scenes.
That being said the relationship between Kincaid and his wife was one of my favourite aspects of the movie. It provided a humanising aspect to Kincaid instead of him just being a killer (as did the avenging for his father storyline). That being said their relationship was not hunky dory. Despite the acts of love and devotion towards his wife- such as taking the deal so she could be set free and putting her favourite flowers at the clock tower for her to see-, their relationship was very realistic with the fights, sarcasm and irritation between the two in their conversations. I also really liked their story of how they met. This was only made better by the soundtrack that accompanied these scenes such as Michael’s and (his ex) Amelia Roussel’s (Elodie Yung) introductory scene being accompanied by Foreigner’s ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’.
In my opinion, the stand out character of the film was obviously Samuel L. Jackson’s Kincaid. Despite being in life or death situations he seems to find everything absolutely hilarious and doesn’t have a care in the world, even when he is being shot at. Bryce even makes a comment after a very lengthy action scene in which the two are split up then reunited again that he ‘is unkillable’. I find it particularly funny that he had such a good relationship with the nuns in the van singing and speaking to them in Italian, when in reality he had killed over 150 people- something the nuns would be rather shocked by if they found out.
That being said I would have loved to have seen more scenes of Selma, and even some more Elodie. Both clearly played very strong female leads able to hold their own. For example, when Sonia worked as a waitress and was being hit on by the customers at the bar, she really showed them who was boss to say the least. It would have been nice to have seen more of this strong female aspect in a story that is clearly dominated by men with guns (especially as all the adversaries that worked for Dukhovich were men).
So overall, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was not the best film of 2017 and is far from it, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would happily watch again. If you’re looking for a laugh and A Lot of action, coupled with a pair of enemies who pettily hate each other then I would definitely recommend a watch.