Every now and then you come across a movie that feels like the most generic film you’ve ever seen. It probably isn’t—after all, only one title can take that crown—but almost every aspect of it is recognizable. Each scene feels lifted from a different, better movie, while each line of dialogue seems like it was written by a computer with “cliche” as the subject. It’s the type of project that’s almost instantly forgettable, and one that’s almost worse to watch than an outright terrible movie—at least those have something worth discussing.
In case that preamble didn’t clue you in, The Hitman’s Bodyguard feels like The Most Generic Film Ever, R-rated 2017 Edition. In recent memory, it probably comes closest to Knight and Day, except that there’s no central romance between its two leads—and it’s even less fun. But we’ve got the bickering, we’ve got to get from Point A to Point B in a time limit, we’ve got bland action, and we’re clocking in about 30 minutes too long. There’s nothing exciting about The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and even its brief highlights provide nothing but a fleeting distraction.
The story follows Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a protection agent (read: bodyguard) who at one point was highly valued but after losing a client is now a relative disgrace. He’s brought in by his former girlfriend, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) to escort a career hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), to a trial designed to put away a Belarussian dictator (Gary Oldman). He’s got just over a day to do it, and the dictator’s got men ready to prevent Kincaid from making it—by any means possible.
This sort of thing almost does write itself. Reynolds and Jackson get to bicker for a whole movie, whenever things start to get boring a new henchman shows up and provides us with a mediocre action scene, the leads slowly grow to like each other, and all tension between lovers and former lovers will be resolved by the end. You could predict every scene in The Hitman’s Bodyguard in your sleep. And, given the decision to make it run for just under two hours, you might get the chance.
“Generic” is the single word one could use to describe The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
See, when a movie is this bland, it’s usually best to reduce the running time to the bare minimum to keep from making audiences nod off or, even worse, start to think too hard about the thing they’re watching. That’s why something like The Dark Tower is as short as it is. Why The Hitman’s Bodyguard is almost two hours long is beyond me. It could’ve ended earlier, too, plot-wise, or by cutting out a lot of the filler. Shame on you, movie.
The action is choppy and not particularly well-shot. You can’t always tell what’s happening, but the film doesn’t care. You may not, either. There aren’t any stakes—it’s clear that nothing bad will happen—and even if someone did die, would anyone even care? The villain, this dictator from Belarus, is given very little to do and, while he’s certainly evil, he’s not personally evil. We don’t feel the hatred we should, and it’s tough to care whether he gets put in prison or goes free. We have no investment.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard only has one thing going for it: the banter between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Both actors are always game for a little back-and-forth, and when the only thing that’s happening in the movie is their dialogue exchanges, it almost becomes fun. But when the rest of the film is filled with cliches and mediocre action, that’s not enough to save it. It grows tiresome by the end—the running time factors in again—and I was sick and tired of both characters long before the credits began to roll.
“Generic” is the single word one could use to describe The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Its action is weak, its story and dialogue could’ve been written by a computer program, and even the banter between its two stars eventually grows tired. At almost two hours, it runs for far too long—you’re supposed to trim generic movies down to the bare minimum. It’s impossible to invest in this film emotionally or intellectually, and it doesn’t have exciting enough action or good enough jokes to work on those levels, either. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a waste of time.
Conclusion: The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a generic and boring action-comedy.
Recommendation: Skip The Hitman’s Bodyguard until you’ve exhausted the rest of your late-night cable options.