The Hitman’s Bodyguard: Few tickles, fewer thrills

When an opening scene of a film shows you a Japanese underworld character, and you’re told his name is Kurosawa, you know the film doesn’t want to be taken particularly seriously. In a sense, The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds is a bit like another film of his, Deadpool. But for some inexplicable reason, it keeps reaching into chick flick zones, especially each time the lead characters played by Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Jackson, launch into a conversation about love and women. Every now and then, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), an executive protection agent (fancy speak for bodyguard), and Darius Kincaid (Samuel Jackson), a contract killer, relax after a dull action setpiece or two by talking about love. In one scene, Darius says, “The gun, the money, the perfect shot through a mo**********’s ear hole from 300 metres… none of that means anything without love.” In another scene, a pressing situation, Michael who’s expected to show up with Darius at an international tribunal, is instead busy professing love to his former girlfriend, an Interpol agent.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast: Samuel Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek

In this chick flick masquerading as action-comedy, there is a smokescreen of a story. Something about a Belarus dictator undergoing trial at the International Court of Justice, and how Michael has to escort Darius safely, so the latter can bear testimony. In truth, it’s all an excuse for liberal doses of inexplicably graphic violence (which is stylised to hold any aesthetic value either)  and corny conversations about love. One scene towards the middle of the film, as Darius recounts the first time he met his girlfriend, Sonia (Salma Hayek), acts as a microcosm of the film. Darius watches from the bar area while Sonia, who’s harassed by a bunch of drunks, process to unleash hell on them. She breaks beer bottles over their heads, and stabs them with the broken bottles. As blood gushes out of their bodies, the camera briefly objectifies the actress, and Darius sits entranced by it all. The entire film’s like an expansion of this scene—only much, much duller.

At least if the action sequences were enterprising enough? In one painfully long action sequence, Darius and Michael are escaping from a bunch of killers who want their heads. Darius hangs off a bus before getting himself a boat. Michael, meanwhile, on a bike, swerves away from all the bullets heading his way. This is the sort of film in which people riding bikes randomly perform wheelies despite them being of no ostensible use. These chase sequences seems to go on so long that I mentally signed out and began checking off my things-to-do list for the week. The jokes aren’t generally great either, unless an overweight girl passing gas is your idea of humour.

One action sequence that has Michael making the most of kitchen equipment is well-conceived, and the occasional joke in between the exchanges between Michael and Darius is funny. But largely, there isn’t much in this action-comedy to thrill or tickle you. Once the film ended, I looked up the meaning of Cucuracha, a word Sonia uses as a term of endearment when calling Darius. It apparently means ‘cockroach’. If it were a better film, I may have wondered what relevance that word holds.

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