The Hitman's Bodyguard: Film Review
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung
Director: Patrick Hughes
Apparently The Hitman's Bodyguard sat on the infamous writer's Black List since 2011.
Which may go some way to explain why it's nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is.
Ryan Reynolds brings his usual level of cool to the role of bodyguard Michael Bryce who's forced to slum it after a protection contract he carries out goes sour.
Sucked into an international case by an ex (played by Elektra star Elodie Yung) Bryce is asked to protect notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) who is the last hope in the trial of an international warlord, played by Gary Oldman.
But with hitmen on their trail, has Bryce been forced to bite off more than he can chew as he chases redemption and a return to the world of protection?
The Hitman's Bodyguard starts off suitably amusing.
A suave mickey take of a Bond style smoothy, meshed with a Hallenstein's Brothers style suit and split screen cuts, plants the film's tongue firmly in its cheek and leads you to believe the tone will be pitched somewhere between humorous and noisy.
But within moments of the titles, it becomes clear The Hitman's Bodyguard is a dumb, overblown film with no aspirations than to have its stars swear and blow stuff up (as well as include a badly timed sequence where terrorists drive into a group of innocents)
Whilst it's content to make use of the European settings to great aplomb (a shoot em up sequence in Coventry is blessed with no basis in reality), The Hitman's Bodyguard fails to bring the required banter level to channel its Midnight Run aspirations.
As it ping-pongs between having Jackson phone in his furious righteous sass and letting Reynolds look exasperated, it fails to settle or commit fully to one tone. Is it screwball or is it action or is it a subtle blend of the two?
There are some great touches inside the workmanlike formula of The Hitman's Bodyguard - the action's reasonably well put together, if overly familiar; and if you're out with a group of mates and after a few beers, this will be positively a riot fest.
But there are frustrating hints that it could have been more.
Thanks to its feeling underwritten, it's underwhelming at best - and the relationship and antagonism between Kincaid and Bryce offered such fertile comic territory of opposites but somehow fails to capitalise on either a Riggs / Murtagh relationship or a Shane Black caper.
All in all, Patrick Hughes proffers little to this, with talents like Hayek and Oldman being squandered in thankless stereotyped roles.
It's supposed to be entirely dumb - but with a bit more chemistry, banter and a whole heap of fun, The Hitman's Bodyguard could have been something to enjoy, rather than a formless mess that's simply average at best.