I will take a punt on almost anything which either Ryan Reynolds or Samuel L Jackson is in, so I was never going to skip a movie with both of them, even where I suspected that they both knew all they had to do was show up and coast along on their charm. As it worked out, I had my expectations dialled to the correct setting; Reynolds and Jackson both did their thing, putting about the same amount of effort into it that Dean Martin used to put into his movies, and it’s a perfectly unremarkable thriller which would probably have been totally dreadful without the star power it got.
What’s almost surprising about it is that it’s not a EuropaCorp movie, since everything about it from its mismatched buddies on a chase through Europe, through its casual xenophobia, its blithe indifference to geopolitics, its offbrand locations and even the typeface for the opening credits screamed Luc Besson passing a buddy another of his patented barmats. Of course EuropaCorp would never have sprung for both Reynolds and Jackson. Money is tight and why use two stars when you can probably get away with just one?
Well, you have to use two stars, kind of, if you’re doing a bad remake of Midnight Run. Which as every reviewer has pointed out, is pretty much what the The Hitman’s Bodyguard boils down to. Of course, the fun in Midnight Run was watching Charles Grodin, a non-star, effortlessly upstage de Niro. The fun isn’t the action; I’ve watched Midnight Run a half a dozen times and I couldn’t tell you what happens in the action scenes, or even be confident that there are any action scenes. The fun’s the interaction scenes. Which ought to be great news if you’re trying to make a movie on the cheap, since two guys arguing in a car is very inexpensive. No-one got that memo, and instead The Hitman’s Bodyguard has loads of action scenes. To give you an idea of how they work in practice, I spent most of them wondering whether they were shot in the correct city, or on the backstreets of someplace cheap like Bulgaria. If I’ve got time to think “I’ve been in the Hague, and it looks nothing like this.” the action scene is not exciting enough to be worth the money it cost.
So it’s fun, kinda. It passes the time. I didn’t expect much from it, and I got about what I expected. Next week I’ll go and see Atomic Blonde and if it doesn’t work like the trailer, I’ll be completely disappointed, even if it winds up being better than The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Because life isn’t fair.