Samuel L. Jackson has had a long and successful career. His newest film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, continues a time honored tradition for Jackson: giving him a buddy to tag along with. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an absolute blast and it got me thinking about Jackson’s other great buddy films. If you dig The Hitman’s Bodyguard, here are six more movies for you to check out. Some are pretty notable while others are a little off the beaten path, but they are all well worth your time.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Obviously, Quentin Tarantino’s game-changing crime anthology has to be on here. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are two of the most iconic henchmen in film history. Their delightful banter about foot massages and McDonald’s cuisine is immediately endearing, and watching them deal with their ever escalating problems is hilariously horrific. Jackson was a well-established actor at this point in his career, but Jules Winnfield turned him into a star. This one is necessary viewing.
Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)
Though Jackson did share the screen with Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, their characters didn’t really cross paths and the two actors didn’t get to work together a whole bunch. That changed with the third entry in the Die Hard series. John McClane (Bruce Willis) is unwittingly paired with Harlem resident Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) as they are led around New York City by a madman named Simon. Simon forces the two to play games in order to stop a number of bombs detonating around town. It’s a fun sequel that should really be the last Die Hard movie in the franchise. Yeah, those last two aren’t worth your time. But this one? Definitely.
The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Screenwriter Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3) teams up with director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4) for this joyously over-the-top action thriller. Geena Davis plays an amnesiac whose memory is slowly returning to her. turns out that she was a CIA assassin and she’s got more than a few enemies headed her way. Jackson plays a private investigator whose helping to discover Davis’s past and ends up sticking with her as the bad guys close in. This is a movie with loads of attitude and lots of great little moments between Jackson and Davis. This one has been a little lost in time and that’s a shame. Worth seeking out.
Formula 51 (2001)
Don’t let that cheeseball trailer fool you. Formula 51 (a.k.a. The 51st State) is a cartoonish pleasure from off-the-wall director Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, Freddy vs. Jason). The story follows hyper-intelligent chemist Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) as he attempts to make one enormous drug deal that will set him up for life. Of course, things don’t go according to plan and he gets stuck running around Britain with Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle), a hot-blooded football fan who tries to help McElroy set up a new deal. This one is an acquired taste due to its hyperactive style, but it’s a gonzo treat for the right audience.
The Sunset Limited (2011)
Now for a very different kind of movie. The Sunset Limited pairs Jackson with legendary actor Tommy Lee Jones (who also directs) as a pair of men simply sitting in a room and debating their opposing philosophies on life, death, and belief. Based on a play by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), this is a riveting character drama that kicks off when lowly ex-com Black (Samuel L. Jackson) saves depressed professor White (Tommy Lee Jones) from committing suicide by jumping in front of a train. The movie is little more than one long conversation, but it’s a chance to see two great actors go to work and turn the simplest of premises into something moving and powerful. This is a difficult watch but also a rewarding one.
Big Game (2014)
Closing out this list is a throwback action film that should really have a bigger audience than it currently does. When US President William Alan Moore (Samuel L. Jackson) is attacked on Air Force One, he crashes into the middle of the forest in Finland. He’s found by a local boy, Oskari (Onni Tommila), who helps him survive in the brutal landscape. The relationship between these two is lovable and fun, and watching them traverse the Finnish wilderness is a hoot. This feels like a conscious return to the kind of bombastic action films of the ’80s, so if you’re a fan of that era of film, Big Game is a worthy successor.