You’ll forget about “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” as you’re watching it

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a direct-to-DVD film that weaseled its way into theaters. Everything about it, from its generic plot to its rushed special effects to its tax-friendly European setting, screams “cheap.” Watching the film, you can literally picture its cracked DVD case lying near the bottom of a Wal-Mart “Action Movie Blowout” bin. Trust me, your mind will wander if you sit through this turd. So why is it playing in multiplexes across our fair country, raking in undeserved amounts of cash?

Well, it’s August, which is historical the worst month for movies. Period. Everything that wasn’t strong enough for June or July gets dumped on our laps in a vain hope to garner some quick cash before Oscar season rolls around. Bodyguard is yet another happy recipient of low expectations.

But mainly, Bodyguard wormed its way to theaters on the backs of its two stars: Samuel “Man, I sure do like yelling” Jackson and Ryan “Most of my characters are just variations on Deadpool” Reynolds. Now, Jackson and Reynolds are two stars who seem to love making movies. Whenever you see interview clips or shots of them on set, they look like they’re having a blast. They’re personable, fun, and likable. They must have had a good time filming this wafer of a movie. Unfortunately, until modern medicine makes a big leap forward, their fun isn’t directly transplant-able to the audience.

You ever see Midnight Run? Or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Or Lethal Weapon? Or any buddy movie of the last thirty years? Well, congratulations, you’ve seen The Hitman’s Bodyguard. The film follows Reynolds as a disgraced bodyguard who’s roped into escorting Jackson’s hitman across Europe. Jackson is testifying in The Hague against a generic warlord (played by a barely-conscious Gary Oldman). Along the way, they bicker, argue, and, wouldn’t you know it, grow to like one other. It’s as dull and listless as it sounds, easily the worst buddy movie since 2 Guns (Anyone remember that? Just me? Okay.)

Jackson and Reynolds are charismatic actors and they have a decent rapport together, but their efforts are sabotaged by a dreadfully boring script. Once in a while they’ll spout off a decent one-liner, but most of their dialogue is insipid, empty snark. It’s a endless parade of unfunny jokes and tedious quips. But it’s preferable to the film’s handful of “serious” moments. When Bodyguard tries to wring genuine pathos out of its stock characters, particularly in a scene where Jackson and Reynolds learn about their shared history, it collapses into a heap of cliches.

Honestly, Jackson and Reynolds get off light compared to the rest of the cast. Oldman is given an 80s-film drug baron stereotype to play, which is tonally at odds with the film’s goofy tone. Oldman doesn’t even try to make the character compelling; you can practically see the dollar signs in his eyes. Elodie Yung (Elektra from Netflix’s Daredevil) stands around to look pretty and do nothing. Salma Hayek is underutilized, like she is in nearly all of her films.

Some decent action could have redeem this mess, but no such luck. The cinematography is grey and flat, sinking the film into a dull nothingness. Its a colourless movie, one where blood splatters barely lighten things up. The stuntwork is impressive at points, but the shaky camerawork obscures it (which is true for 90% of action films these days). The non-action scenes are pedestrian and uninspired, lazily switching from Reynolds and Jackson as they fire off their weak punchlines.

You can feel Bodyguard suck the life out of you as you watch it. Every plot twist is telegraphed a mile away, every character is beyond boring, and every shot is artlessly composed. It’s grey porridge transposed to the big screen. Its only purpose is to serve as an obscure trivia question: “What film starred Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gary Oldman?” In two months, even I won’t be able to answer that question.

Let this film sink into the bargain basement where it belongs.