Great men make great contributions to society. Often cinema takes the responsibility for lauding that greatness, at some stage, in some cloying historically inaccurate widescreen representation. This summer, the directorial hat of laudity (?) has fallen on the head of Christopher Nolan, with the epic Dunkirk. Plucky boat owners are finally acknowledged for their part in the greatest military rescue of WW2. The Hitman’s Bodyguard seems an unlikely bedfellow to this Hollywood trope, however, as a film it finally acknowledges something that the cinema goer of the late 20th and early 21st century holds to be true. If one person could be said to own a compound noun, then Samuel L Jackson’s picture should be top-right in Wikipedia, and front and centre of the Webster’s Illustrated for the phrase “mother-f***er”. Beyond even Oedipus himself, Jackson has championed the insalubrious act across contexts and continents of the English speaking world. Finally, in the Hitman’s Bodyguard, his grammatical contextual contribution is applauded. It falls to the talents of Jackson’s co-star, Ryan Reynolds, himself no stranger to cutting an insightful sexually graphic description through his portrayal of Deadpool – the one where his mouth wasn’t crazy glued shut, to remind the audience of Jackson’s exhibition-game use of the Oedipal couplet.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard pits the co-stars as flip-sides of the same coin. Reynolds as the former high-end security professional whose meticulous planning suffers a singular failure, plummetting him into a workplace of coke-headed ass-hattery (played by Richard E Grant) and Jackson, as the contract killer who prized the heart over the head. What the audience get is a solid, violent, and increasingly funny semi-buddy movie in the vein of the classic Lethal Weapon franchise.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard doesn’t plough any new ground or make any bold statements about meta commentary of a genre, but conversely it side-steps the issue of hack dialogue by making maximum use of the audience expectation of both Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson’s previous work. Reynold’s is fast becoming an adept user of the implied reaction and the Hitman’s Bodyguard picks up the masked expression that worked so well in Deadpool.
It is always a pleasure to see Selma Hayek on the screen and here she ramps it up to 11 as the incarcerated love interest. She also gets some rather well subtitled outbursts which could see the Hitman’s Bodyguard getting categorized in the foreign language sections of some streaming services.
Gary Oldman is in here too, as the evil Eastern European despot around whom the “race to a deadline” story revolves. It’s a typical Oldman OTT bad guy performance. I suppose that if you are making an action trope movie, then you may as well throw in the ubiquitous Brit as badguy element. Oldman certainly plays this element better than Jeremy Irons these days (yes you, Assassin’s Creed, you!)
Obviously I enjoyed this. There is violence, guns, and swearing. There is a terrible representation of Coventry (PLOTFLAW – why would anyone drive from Manchester to Dover via Coventry and not just take the M6?*) and a cross channel ferry that would be hard pressed to sail to the Isle of Wight – much less the circuitous route from Kent to the Hook of Holland. Surprisingly for a reviewer whose enjoyment of Man from Uncle was destroyed by a Land-Rover placement error, neither of these things bothered me. Probably because I still snigger like a teenager whenever Samuel L Jackson hurls out his favourite obscenity.
You should probably get off your arses and go see this mother-f***er in the cinema this weekend.
*The ever patient Mrs L points out that the obvious answer here is that the M6 is always a night-mare – especially around junctions 15-13…