Reeling it in: You’ve seen ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ before

This image released by Lionsgate shows Samuel L. Jackson, left, and Ryan Reynolds in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” (Jack English/Lionsgate via AP)

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard”

 

Lionsgate

1 hour, 58 minutes

I always wonder what an actor thinks when they see the finished version of a movie they worked on. For one, the experience of working in the film would no longer be fresh, since most movies come out six months to a year after principal photography is over. Also, the actor may or may not have had any idea what the finished version of a film is supposed to look like.

Case in point, the films of Terrence Malick, where the infamous auteur gets actors together, has them improv a bunch of scenarios, and then builds the story later from the available footage. Sometimes those actors end up getting cut out of the movie completely, big name star or no. I imagine there are times that an actor wishes he or she had been cut from the final version of a film, especially once the critical reaction hits. I think we’re seeing that right now with Ben Affleck, who is reconsidering a career as Batman.

I’m only speculating, but I wonder if either Samuel L. Jackson or Ryan Reynolds might feel similarly, after having seen “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

No, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” which came out on streaming services last week, isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And, while it wasn’t a hit, it also wouldn’t count as a flop. I’m sure it was relatively cheap to make and it had some minor buzz for a few minutes there. It is not so much terrible as terribly uninspired.

It’s a real problem when you can tell that the only creative impulse is to crash together two different kinds of movies. “Jaws” meets “Twister,” for example. And in this case, these two movies aren’t even all that different. “What if you had an assassin and a bodyguard, and then the bodyguard has to guard the assassin? And they hate each other. Funny, huh?”

Not really. As action buddy comedies go, you could do a lot better than this.

The basic plot goes thusly: Ryan Reynold’s Michael was a top-tier protection professional until an important client found himself on the wrong end of a bullet. Humiliated, confidence shattered, Michael is forced to take lesser jobs, all the while nursing a grudge against his former girlfriend, whose idle talk he blames for his client’s death.

Meanwhile, uber-hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is rotting away in prison when the powers that be offer him a slight chance at redemption. Not for him, exactly, but for his wife Sonia, played by Salma Hayek. Sonia is also in prison and is a tough customer in her own right, but the authorities have offered to free her in exchange for Darius’ testimony against a vicious war criminal. But before he can testify, he’s got to get to the courthouse alive — and there’s just one man alive who can get him there.

So, yeah, you’ve seen this movie before — this time it’s just been pieced together from a handful of other movies. Reynolds and Jackson are both seasoned performers and don’t embarrass themselves, unless you consider it an embarrassment to show up and do the minimum amount of work necessary to get a paycheck. They are the very definition of adequate. The writing in this film isn’t great, but mostly because there’s nothing innovative, nothing new. It’s both insubstantial and entirely obvious.

I feel like I’m tired of the film and yet I really can’t remember anything about it, despite just having watched it. It’s not as though the action genre is over, or that the buddy comedy is tired and played. “John Wick” proved that, given an interesting script even the most basic of premises can feel fresh again. And what about “The Heat”? Talk about a refreshing take on an old idea.

Unfortunately, despite a laugh here and there, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has nothing new to offer.

Grade: C-

As we are entering awards season, it’s just about time for me to start complaining about how the serious contenders never play here on the peninsula. Remember “Moonlight”? No? That’s because we didn’t get it. On the horizon are smaller films like “I, Tonya,” “The Florida Project,” and “Three Billboards Outside Epping, Mississippi” alongside higher profile projects like Spielberg’s “The Post,” “All the Money in the World,” that movie you’ve heard was recently scrubbed of all its Spacey, and “The Greatest Showman on Earth,” the circus-epic starring a singing Wolverine. We have a total of five screens in our community. Surely at least one could be given over to showing one of those smaller films for a couple of weeks? After all, you can only see “Jumanji” so many times. Let’s bring some culture along with the flash.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is rated R for language and violence.

Chris Jenness is an art teacher, freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.