the HIT­MAN’S body­guard

Wit­less pro­tec­tion… OUT NOW

Total Film - - Contents -

Dead­pool and Nick Fury is a recipe for suc­cess. Right?

What­ever tol­er­ance you have for snark­i­ness, in­dis­crim­i­nate col­lat­eral dam­age and Sa­muel L. Jack­son yelling “Mother­fucker!” will be sorely tested by this ob­nox­ious ac­tion brom-com. Ba­si­cally a jacked-up do-over of The Body­guard, with Ryan Reynolds in the Kevin Cost­ner role and Jack­son as Whit­ney Hous­ton (he even sings), it throws to­gether a pair of ac­tors from op­po­site ends of the Mar­vel uni­verse in the hope their sep­a­rate screen per­sonas will com­bine to gen­er­ate that elu­sive gold dust: chemistry.

What ac­tu­ally hap­pens is they can­cel each other out, with Reynolds’ mor­dant dead­pan and muted un­der­play­ing leav­ing Sam with lit­tle op­tion but to ramp the shouty, sweary stri­dency way

up. Reynolds is Michael Bryce, an ‘ex­ec­u­tive pro­tec­tion agent’ with a triple-A rat­ing (what, on Quip Ad­vi­sor?), who we first see los­ing one of his clients to an un­seen as­sas­sin’s bul­let. Brought low by the botched as­sign­ment, he’s un­der­stand­ably wary when an ex from In­ter­pol (Dare­devil’s Elodie Yung) of­fers him a job: to en­sure killer for hire turned star wit­ness Dar­ius Kin­caid (Jack­son) lives long enough to tes­tify against a vile Be­laru­sian despot (Gary Old­man, phon­ing it in) on trial for war crimes.

It goes with­out say­ing that Mike and Dar­ius have a past that puts them at each other’s throats from the sec­ond they’re reac­quainted. (“The only way Bryce and Kin­caid don’t make it is if they kill each other first!” clar­i­fies Yung, point­lessly.) With a seem­ingly lim­it­less num­ber of heav­ily armed goons on their tail, though, they’re forced to put aside their dif­fer­ences as they em­bark on a 24-hour road trip from Blighty to The Hague that in­evitably comes with as much bick­er­ing bad­i­nage as it does ex­plo­sions, gunfire and fisticuffs.

Pa­trick Hughes (The Ex­pend­ables 3) keeps his leads in per­pet­ual mo­tion, switch­ing them from cars to boats to mo­tor­bikes and back again in the op­ti­mistic ex­pec­ta­tion it will en­er­gise a for­mu­laic and pre­dictable plot­line. (One ef­fi­cient chase se­quence on the wa­ter­ways of Am­s­ter­dam utilises all three.) Old­man’s ter­ror­ist tac­tics, un­for­tu­nately, can’t help but strike a nerve in the light of re­cent tragic events, not least when they stretch to bomb-laden lor­ries det­o­nat­ing out­side crowded public build­ings. Salma Hayek, mean­while, is poorly served as Jack­son’s in­car­cer­ated wife, who’s al­most as shouty and sweary as her other half.

A sense­lessly vi­o­lent flash­back, in­ci­den­tally, re­veals that the mo­ment the cou­ple fell in love co­in­cided with that time she sev­ered a bloke’s carotid artery with a bro­ken bot­tle. Now who says ro­mance is dead? Neil Smith

THE VER­DICT

Two char­ac­ters, who you won’t like, in­sult­ing each other for two hours. Give it a miss and re­watch Mid­night Run in­stead.

Pro­tec­tion agent Bryce takes hand-hold­ing to new ex­tremes.

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