Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson a hoot to watch in The Hitman's Bodyguard

Samuel L. Jackson (far left) and Ryan Reynolds ham it up in The Hitman's Bodyguard.
Samuel L. Jackson (far left) and Ryan Reynolds ham it up in The Hitman's Bodyguard.PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES

REVIEW / ACTION COMEDY

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD

118 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: Michael (Ryan Reynolds) is a top bodyguard hired to protect hitman Darius (Samuel L. Jackson), who is due to testify against a powerful politician in court. The pair's loud personalities clash right from the start, but they soon discover that they have to work together if either of them wants to stay alive.

It is enough to pay the price of a movie ticket just to see the genuine chemistry between leading men Reynolds and Jackson, two incredibly charismatic actors who are shameless about milking their wellhoned screen personas for this movie: Reynolds with his signature Deadpool-like snark and Jackson with his foul-mouthed swagger.

It is hard to tell which bits are scripted and which are ad-libbed, as the two bring on plenty of easy laughs, constantly trying to one-up each other in every scene.

The constant wisecracks could have become annoying quickly, if both of them weren't so open about mocking themselves in the process - Jackson, in particular, happily drags out his famous "motherf*****" bomb in a sing-song tone more than once.

As much as the stars are having fun in their roles, they cannot hide the fact that the story they are working with here is completely unoriginal. There is something very oldfashioned about it all - and not in a meta, self-parodying way, either.

Instead, the movie feels like it has borrowed all of its gags and plot twists from older buddy action comedies, such as Lethal Weapon (1987) and Bad Boys (1995).

Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3, 2014) tries to keep things interesting by throwing in an endless stream of explosions, but he should have realised from the start that his two most fiery weapons were his main stars.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2017, with the headline 'Armed with good leads, but plot is a misfire'. Print Edition | Subscribe