‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ Review: Vulgar, Violent, and Very, Very Fun

4.0
of 5
Review Essentials
  • A throwback to old school R-rated action comedies
  • Wickedly fun tone
  • Good focus on lead characters
  • Exciting action
  • Bare bones plot
  • Weak villain

An infamous hitman (Samuel L. Jackson) is going to testify against a murderous world leader (Gary Oldman), and it’s up to a disgraced bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) to make sure he gets to the trial on time and in one piece.

A Throwback Action/Comedy

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Darius (Samuel L. Jackson) is way too cool to look at an explosion

R-rated action movies often work best when they are overloaded with a sense of glee. Having a spirit of fun while you’re engaging in wanton violence makes the whole endeavor a lot more palatable. The Hitman’s Bodyguard completely understands this and dives headfirst into the deep end of action comedy.

The story is stripped down to its bare essentials, and that’s mostly a positive. It allows us to focus on the main characters, played by Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, instead of getting bogged down in unnecessary plot mechanics. Reynolds and Jackson exude a sense of play and that makes their characters a blast to spend time with. Plus, we get a joyously foul-mouthed turn from Selma Hayek as Jackson’s imprisoned wife, and every second with her is applause-worthy. Heck, this movie even has a phenomenal romance going on between the two of them and it’s as heartwarming and hilarious as it is horrifying.

Thin on Plot, Heavy on Fun

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Darius (Samuel L. Jackson) loves to give Michael (Ryan Reynolds) a hard time

Much like Deadpool, there is a juvenile delight to the film’s attitude that makes all of the gruesome violence silly and exciting instead of sickening. Director Patrick Hughes keeps the action scenes streamlined enough to where you simply enjoy them on their own, even if they aren’t always doing the plot a huge service. The name of the game is fun, and The Hitman’s Bodyguard wants nothing more than to be a brutal piece of popcorn hilarity.

That does become a problem where the villain is concerned. Gary Oldman’s antagonist is something of an empty presence in the film, never quite jiving with the jaunty nature of the piece. He’s a straightforward bad guy but he doesn’t ever get the chance to shine on his own. Still, it’s not so detrimental that it ever kills the devilish mood that the film cultivates.

Is The Hitman’s Bodyguard Good?

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Sonia (Salma Hayek) is not afraid to speak her mind

It’s an old-fashioned action film infused with the modern impishness of its two lead actors. Thanks to a sturdy control of tone and some deliciously wicked performances, it works like gangbusters despite its bare bones plot and a weak villain. If you lament the lack of hard-R rated action absurdity at the box office, this is one you won’t want to miss.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.