For anyone that loved Cannon Films in the 1980’s and their shlocky, grotesque but strangely enjoyable fare, Millennium Films are still flying the Golan-Globus flag some three decades later. Many of those who worked for the charismatic Israeli cousins during that manic few years through such “classics” as Invasion USA, Missing in Action, Lifeforce and Over The Top, are now part of Millennium and while a lot of their properties share much of its DNA, there’s an air of quality control with the new gang.
Their latest 21st-century Cannon-esque outing is The Hitman’s Bodyguard, another run-of-the-mill action-comedy that has all the hallmarks of being a little bit of a stinker from the off. But it’s with great joy that we can shake off those fears and proclaim the film one of the year’s most ridiculous but unabashedly delightful romps with two stars at the top of their powers.
While we may never get to see Deadpool and Nick Fury share a stage in the world of comic-books, this is the closest we may ever get and together the two are dynamite. Ryan Reynolds stars as Michael Bryce, the world’s foremost bodyguard who is brought in by his ex (Elodie Yung) to help her protect the world’s foremost hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) who is a target for a Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman) as Kincaid is set to testify against him in the International Court of Justice. Armed with only their skills and wit, Bryce needs to get Kincaid across Europe, alive, before the court deadline runs out.
What makes Hitman’s reach the next level is the relationship between its leads which while on paper may seem like two competing comedic entities is actually a wonderful match made in heaven. While many tired of his schtick long ago, even with the thunderbolt of Deadpool, Reynolds has always delivered in our books even when he’s made some terrible choices (Green Lantern would have been demonstrably worse without his involvement) and once again he’s a whirlwind of comedy gold.
It’s outside of the headlining duo that things fall down: Hayek, so brilliant in satirical dramedy Beatriz for Dinner, is relegated to token background wife here without any chance to shine, while Yung fares little better. And poor Gary Oldman – a top contender for an Oscar this season with Darkest Hour, follows up the criminal Criminal with a misjudged, and ill-advised, pantomime villain that neither scares nor chills but serves enough to allow Jackson in particular to have some fun.
While it’s not the most demanding or smart effort you’ll ever see, you’ll find it hard to find another film this year that is as entertaining as this one. And with Reynolds and Jackson on brilliant form, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a brilliantly fun way to spend a couple of hours.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is released on August 18th.