Samuel L Jackson, Ryan Reynolds join forces in ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

In the action-comedy "The Hitman's Bodyguard" Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds hit the right notes, balancing action with comedy.

Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds star in "The Hitman's Bodyguard." (Still from the trailer, a Lionsgate Film)

LOS ANGELES, October 7, 2017 – Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have joined forces to star in the late-summer action-comedy film, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” Reynolds plays the comic-relief wise-ass character he has become known for, while Jackson returns once again as the action star that we love. When they come together in this film, their live-wire chemistry makes for a fun, buddy-cop movie.

Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard who has hit rock bottom in his career, the result of his last client getting shot in the head. Fast forward two years later, as the down-and-out Bryce gets a call from his ex-girlfriend Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung – Elektra in the recent Marvel-Netflix superhero drama “The Defenders”).

Amelia offers him a gig to escort high-profile assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to the Hague to testify against a war criminal played by Gary Oldman. Kincaid says he can get to the Hague on his own, but eventually allows Bryce to be his bodyguard. That’s inexplicable in a way, as Kincaid has tried to kill him on 28 different occasions already. But a gig is a gig, so this unlikely pair ends up crisscrossing, Europe fighting the war criminal’s goons all the way.

Best known for directing “The Expendables 3,” director Patrick Hughes, plays it by ear in “Hitman’s Bodyguard,” frequently stepping aside to allow his star-studded cast do much of the work, almost by instinct. At the same time, he also lets his stunt crew flex their impressive muscles, adding further pizazz to this film’s action sequences.

For their part, the Reynolds and Jackson team provides plenty of laughs, seemingly running on pure comic instinct for the most part. That’s why the real strength of this film essentially rests entirely on the shoulders of Reynolds and Jackson, reminiscent of the way odd-couple Mel Gibson and Danny Glover played off against one another in the hit film franchise, “Lethal Weapon” (1987-1998).

Although “Hitman’s Bodyguard” boasts a family-unfriendly hard-R rating, and while there’s plenty of bloodshed splattered throughout, all the gore doesn’t really leave an impression for those prepared to take this film as the pure entertainment vehicle it was designed to be.

In addition to the over-the-top bloodshed, the film provides plenty of car chases and explosions. Highlights of these action sequences include a hot pursuit in and along the endless canals of Amsterdam and a tool-assisted hand-to-hand combat scenario set in a hardware store that provides an endless bounty of appropriate props.

With Reynolds generally serving in the straight-man role, Jackson scores most of the best one-liners and major scenes in this film. That’s not really a surprise, given that Jackson has made a specialty of playing murderers touched by an oddly well-wrought sense of moral grace. (See “Pulp Fiction.”)

Although the Jackson and Reynolds characters seem to run out of fresh insults and schoolyard taunts long before they exhaust their supply of bullets, this late-summer release, still playing in many theaters, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has proved a modest if not exactly a critical success, a pleasant surprise for Lionsgate films in a notably hit-or-miss blockbuster season.

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