The Hitman’s Playdate

Everyone needs a Canadian in their life. Someone to watch their back. Someone who’s always stoked about maple syrup and dogs in cozy jackets. A good Canadian – Ryan Reynolds for example – is ready with an “Op – sorry” after dinging the assailants with his car. Seatbelts first, airbags second, lock pick travel kit last. A hitman doesn’t really need a bodyguard, but who could say no to such polite, well-meaning company?

First we meet the bodyguard: a Triple-A rated (whatever that means) protection agent with a glass house and a shiny jag. This is Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), the non-Brit with two first names and the career of his dreams. He’s making buckets of cash protecting the rich and ethically questionable until one day a client dies on his watch. Flash forward and Michael has no team, no house, and an average cloth-seated car that smells. His ex-girlfriend, Amelia (Elodie Yung), meanwhile, is a busy Interpol agent responsible for escorting a convict across international borders to the witness stand. Her prisoner is our second protagonist: the hitman. Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is a little old school but his excellent hand-eye coordination and divine bullet-resistance make him an expert assassin – until he’s caught and thrown in jail. Now Darius is being called as a key witness against the heinous crimes of Belarus’ president, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Vladislav would pay anything to prevent Darius’ testimony, which makes the ex-hitman a hot target and Amelia’s job particularly difficult. With evidence of an Interpol intelligence leak and nowhere else to turn, Amelia calls her ex-boyfriend and bodyguard, Michael, to help Darius get to the witness box. Reluctantly, Michael agrees, but probably only because the Belarusians have now tagged him as a target and it’s imperative that Darius gets an I told you so at the end of all this.

An unlikely team-up results in a life-long, potentially sequel-tapping friendship. The Hitman’s Bodyguard pulls all the regular stops including an expert plan gone awry, a clash of testosterone, and two blokes pining over their old ladies. One hero is a little vanilla and plays it safe, while the other is a bottle of whiskey on the edge of a pool table in a salsa club. What kind of wacky adventures will they have? Buddy cops and unlikely team-ups are everywhere, which means The Hitman’s Bodyguard has to have a certain something to really stand out. And it actually does. It could be the writing, the acting, the fleet of pulverized BMWs, or the scenic streets of Amsterdam, but it turns out that The Hitman’s Bodyguard is exactly what I needed after this summer movie drought. It’s a fast-paced, comedy-riddled, perfectly timed escapade with a villain that chills your core just by sitting there. Fantastic.

A lot of the magic comes down to perfect timing. Michael’s incessant need for a plan is constantly compromised by Darius’ lucky improvisation. Reynolds and Jackson build a captivating dynamic by mixing a kickass saviour with a badass executioner and sitting them down for conversations about true love. Darius can hide six guns in two pockets but his real power is peeling back the layers of confusion weighing down a bodyguard who just wants to love again. It’s like couch therapy with your local sharpshooter. The dynamic between the Sesame Street crossing guard and Deadpool’s guidance counselor is magical. I laughed as much through the repartee as I did through the car chases.

When the dialogue gets dangerously close to sleepover territory, The Hitman’s Bodyguard switches gears and hops in a stolen car. It’s incredible how many assassins stand in Darius’ way, especially since Vladislav is directing the troops from house arrest. No expense (except for the fancy jaguars parked safely off to the side) was spared to bring us the car/motorcycle/boat/bicycle race of the summer. The chase scenes are perfectly organized and beautifully shot, to the point where I’ve added Holland to my bucket list but vow never to drive there.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard juggles one-on-one conversations about true love and career fulfillment while making use of every tool in the shop – literally – to bring down Frankenstein’s Belarusian brother. Reynolds and Jackson master comedic timing to make The Hitman’s Bodyguard the funniest film I’ve seen this summer. Granted, 2017 has been a bit of a movie wasteland, but I appreciated this movie for the action, comedy, and exciting storyline nonetheless. The Hitman’s Bodyguard was better than I thought it would be, and I’m eager to give it a 7.5/10.

“I can’t quote this trailer because I would lose my PG rating.”

 

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