Arts

The Hitman's Bodyguard a testosterone fuelled romp round Europe

Samuel L Jackson goes for a speedboat ride in Amsterdam, as you do, in The Hitman's Bodyguard

IN 1992 Whitney Houston fell head over stiletto heels for her po-faced protector, Kevin Costner, in the blockbuster thriller The Bodyguard. A quarter of a century later, the heady musk of bromance pervades as Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds wedge tongues firmly in cheek to play the targeted prey and gung-ho guardian in Patrick Hughes's high-octane action comedy.

The Hitman's Bodyguard is a fitfully entertaining, testosterone-saturated romp that borrows the basic premise of the 1977 Clint Eastwood thriller The Gauntlet and orchestrates mayhem around the fractious on-screen chemistry of its two leads.

Tom O'Connor's freewheeling script falls short of the filth and irreverence of Deadpool, and action sequences aren't as stylish as that comic book caper, but the cocktail of obscenities, bawdy humour and cartoon violence slips down smoothly.

Reynolds and Jackson relish the potty-mouthed dialogue, but it's co-star Salma Hayek who sinks her painted talons deepest into every scene, perfectly embodying the film's outlandish, knockabout spirit.

A bodyguard for hire is only as good as his last job. Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is one of the best protection agents in the business with a cautious, methodical approach to his work.

"Boring is always best," he instructs his team.

An anonymous sniper takes out one of Michael's prized clients. He loses his triple A rating and is relegated to shadowing low value assets. Out of the blue, he is contacted by his old flame, Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung).

She is an Interpol agent, who should be shepherding hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to The Hague, where he is due to testify against east European dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman).

Instead, she is hiding in a safe house with Darius in the aftermath of an assault on the transportation cavalcade, initiated by Dukhovich's gun-toting henchmen. The breach in security convinces Amelia that there must be a mole in a team led by Renata Casoria (Tine Joustra) and Jean Foucher (Joaquim de Almeida).

She needs someone "out of the loop" to shadow Darius to the International Court of Justice. Michael reluctantly agrees.

En route, the two men bicker and Darius teaches Michael how to win back Amelia by reminiscing about his courtship of jailbird wife Sonia (Hayek).

The Hitman's Bodyguard ricochets between European locations as the high stakes game of catch-me-if-you-can results in wanton carnage. A high-speed chase around the canals of Amsterdam is orchestrated at a breathless pace, while Oldman's pantomime villain hungrily chews scenery.

The identity of the Interpol traitor will come as no surprise, but brawn easily smothers brains in O'Connor's loopy, crowd-pleasing script.

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (15, 118 mins) Action/Comedy/Romance. Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Gary Oldman, Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Tine Joustra. Director: Patrick Hughes

RATING: 6.5/10

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