A killer cou­ple

A fun but silly buddy movie that squeezes in some phi­los­o­phy and ro­mance too


Sa­muel L. Jack­son as hit­man Kin­caid, Ryan Reynolds as his body­guard Bryce

the hit­man’s body­guard

15 Sa­muel L. Jack­son, Salma Hayek, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Old­man ★★★★ The hit­man’s Body­guard sounds like it ought to sit along­side snakes on a Plane and Cleaner in Sa­muel L. Jack­son’s enor­mous CV. In fact, this film’s off­beat hu­mour el­e­vates it to the ac­tion-com­edy cor­ner, some­where be­tween Kingsman and The in­cred­i­bles.

We first meet Ryan Reynolds’ dead­pan body­guard, Michael Idris elba as Roland Bryce, as his ca­reer is shot down along with a high­pow­ered client. He’s at his low­est ebb when an ex in the Se­cret Ser­vice forces him to es­cort Sa­muel L. Jack­son’s inked-up as­sas­sin, Dar­ius Kin­caid, to Hol­land so he can tes­tify in a war crim­i­nal’s trial and at­tain a par­don for his wrongly im­pris­oned wife, So­nia (Salma Hayek). If Bryce does his job right, he has a shot at re­gain­ing his ‘triple A’ pro­tec­tion sta­tus: ev­ery­body wins.

Al­though pre­dictable, the clashes be­tween Jack­son’s gung-ho killer and Reynolds’ cau­tious pro­tec­tor cre­ate sparks. Dur­ing their manic road trip to Am­s­ter­dam, they take jabs at each other with ag­gres­sively bad singing, and have wildly dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences hitch­hik­ing in a bus full of nuns.

The film even finds it­self nav­i­gat­ing mo­ments of moral phi­los­o­phy with Jack­son’s as­sas­sin: “Who is more evil?” he asks Bryce. “He who kills evil moth­erf**kers, or he who pro­tects them?” Adding a ro­man­tic edge is Kin­caid’s ob­ses­sion with re­la­tion­ships, al­low­ing for some mem­o­rably kick-ass scenes by Kin­caid and Bryce’s re­spec­tive flames. Buried in the mix is a mas­ter­ful Am­s­ter­dam chase se­quence crammed with beau­ti­ful track­ing shots and sur­real hu­mour.

The hit­man’s Body­guard is not a com­pli­cated film, but it re­mains con­stantly sur­pris­ing thanks to its con­sis­tent re­fusal to obey generic rules. Larry Bartleet Stephen KING’S dark Tower se­ries has long been con­sid­ered ‘un­filmable’. With eight books, to­talling 4,250 pages, it’s an enor­mous work of dense mythol­ogy and meta call­backs to the rest of King’s books. It can still be con­sid­ered un­filmable, be­cause this aw­ful adap­ta­tion will likely baf­fle fans and new­com­ers alike.

Four screen­writ­ers and di­rec­tor niko­laj Ar­cel have ap­proached the prob­lem of ex­plain­ing the books’ com­plex plot by opt­ing to ex­plain noth­ing. We’re told that in the cen­tre of the uni­verse stands a tower pro­tect­ing us from out­side forces. An evil man (Matthew Mcconaughey with Zoolan­der hair and cheque-cash­ing eyes) is kid­nap­ping chil­dren to power a tower-top­pling weapon.

His search hones in on a trou­bled boy (Tom Tay­lor) who crosses over to the evil man’s world and teams up with a gun­slinger (Idris elba) to stop him. We’re given none of the con­nec­tive tis­sue to make sense of these el­e­ments. In­stead, it rushes through scenes as if ea­ger to be over as quickly as pos­si­ble. Thank­fully it is, within 95 min­utes. Olly Richards

aw­ful rushed baf­fling

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