The Hitman’s Bodyguard is very funny. It’s also two hours long. Whether or not you can put up with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson doing exactly the things they are best known for doing over that length of time will determine with one hundred percent accuracy how much you will enjoy this movie. I like these guys. And I appreciate the novelty of throwing them together for a 48 Hours-style action comedy. But at a certain point I had just had enough.
None of that blame falls on the two leads, however. I’m gonna spread it around equally to the writing, directing, editing, production design, and especially the cinematography. This is an absurdly bad-looking movie. Though I can’t find any real evidence for this, it has all the tell-tale signs of a very troubled production. I know that it was a hit on the Black List before going through rewrites up until shooting began, piling on the comedy to what was originally a darker and more dramatic story. But the comedy is the only thing that actually works. Otherwise it suggests a project that played musical chairs with every level of the production crew. It’s badly lit, utilizes green screens for completely random shots, and for the first fifteen minutes (the entire opening credits sequence) I couldn’t make out a single word being said over the over-pumped and badly mixed soundtrack. And I checked around on that last one. Of those I asked, that’s been the experience of audiences in four different theaters in four different states. So it wasn’t just bad sound in the house I was in. It’s a poorly made film.
Jackson and Reynolds, the hitman and the bodyguard, are perfectly fine, essentially doing impressions of your impressions of them. The supporting cast all get the job done as well, though I wouldn’t have minded if some of that two hour run time had given me more opportunities to hang out with Salma Hayek and Gary Oldman, who both play plot points rather than characters but make the most of what they’ve got. Oldman obviously loves any chance he can get to cover his face with hideous makeup and put on an accent, and Hayek dominates her scenes as a woman with deep wells of emotion and humanity rather than simply letting the character become the princess locked away in a tower waiting for her prince to rescue her that the script otherwise makes her out to be. She’s no damsel in distress.
Seriously, though, I can’t stress enough how terrible this movie looks and sounds. From the soundtrack that plays like the producer left his iPod on shuffle to the gauzy soap opera lighting that appears at random and without context constantly throughout the film, it feels amateurish from the first frame to the last (admittedly, though, that last frame is pretty great). I’m not saying I expected much from the director of Expendables 3. Just maybe try to keep the lens in focus next time. If it’s not too much trouble.