Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) once ran a Triple A rated private protection firm, but after losing a Japanese gun runner to sniper fire, he's been reduced to escorting coke addled lawyers in his old beater that 'smells like ass.' One day he gets a phone call from his ex, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung, 2011's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "Gods of Egypt"), who must get notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the International Court in The Hague as a witness against brutal Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Bryce believes Amelia was responsible for his downfall, but still pining for her, he agrees to be "The Hitman's Bodyguard."
The dog days of August are a notorious dumping ground for forgettable flicks, but there are worse ways to spend your time than with this preposterous action buddy comedy. If you can blow by screenwriter Tom O'Connor's attempt to debate the moral merits of killing bad men versus protecting their lives, you can focus on the entertainingly combative relationship between the irreverent Jackson and tightly wound Reynolds and their respectively insane and broken romances. In a cliched role that wouldn't have been out of place in a 90's Robert Rodriguez movie, Salma Hayek kicks ass and takes names as the imprisoned wife of Darius, whose release he has bargained for with his pre-incarceration testimony.
After losing her entire team to Dukhovich's henchman Ivan's (Yuri Kolokolnikov) gang, Roussel goes rogue, believing they could have only known Darius's location from a mole in The Hague. When Bryce arrives, he's stunned to see who he has to transport from Manchester, England - a man who's tried to kill him eighteen times - but Roussel's promised his rating back should he succeed and so the two take off in Bryce's preferred mode of transportation, a vehicle that 'blends in.' With Ivan in pursuit, the duo will walk through cow fields, hitchhike with a vanload of nuns and ferry to Amsterdam, where Darius's mission to deliver tulips to his wife will set off a chase involving local cops, Interpol, a speedboat and a motorcycle through restaurants, the Red Light District, a hardware store and the city's canals.
"The Expendables 3" director Patrick Hughes not only wrecks havoc in Amsterdam's center, but takes a comedic tack, beginning the sequence with Reynolds in the foreground complaining to a bartender as mayhem goes down all around him, a gag repeated in the film's final frames as Darius is reunited with Sonia at the Cucaracha Bar. That Cucaracha Bar is also featured in a flashback as Darius tells Michael how it was love at first sight as he watched Sonia take out a bunch of guys with broken bottles and stilettos. Hayek is even fierce in restraint, practicing yoga as she hurls abuse at guards and the cellmate forced into a corner. Reynolds and Jackson's Odd Couple banter is an amusing prelude to their budding bromance. Oldman's in Russian accent paycheck mode and Yung is reined in by her role, but Richard E. Grant has a moment as one of Bryce's clients.
O'Connor's recycling of cliches is meant to be read as retro homage, but if the violent action comedy goes nowhere new, Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek raise this one out of the slag heap.
Robin did not see this film.
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