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‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ drops tired jokes between blasts and bullets

An assassin (Samuel L. Jackson, left) is guarded by a security expert (Ryan Reynolds) in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” | SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT

“Why are we always yelling!” – Ryan Reynolds to Samuel L. Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

Maybe it’s because you have to yell to be heard over the near-constant roar of exploding vehicles, automatic weapon fire, screams of anguish and the mostly crummy “classic rock” soundtrack blasting from the screen?

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” director Patrick Hughes gave us “The Expendables 3.”

Now he gives us another expendable movie.

Starring the likable but underperforming A-list duo of Ryan Reynolds — who might reach a career high for slow-burn comedic double takes in this film — and Samuel L. Jackson, who does his best to top even his Tarantino-films use of the m-word, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is a blunt, ultraviolent, obnoxious empty vessel of a movie.

Reynolds plays Bryce, a formerly “Triple-A Rated” elite security specialist who has fallen on hard times. Jackson is Darius Kincaid, a legendary assassin with well over 150 kills, now behind bars.

Through a series of contrived and deadly circumstances, Bryce’s ex, the Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), enlists him to transport Darius from Great Britain to The Hague, where the Belarusian war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is on trial.

You see, Darius is the only witness with actual evidence against the murderous Dukhovich. And he’s cooperating with authorities in exchange for the release of his wife (Salma Hayek), a horrible person with little or no redeeming qualities.

So off we go on this “Midnight Run” knockoff, and time and again the comedy is tone-deaf and tired.

• Two battered and bloody tough guys hitch a ride with a busload of nuns in uniform. Gee, think we’ll get a sing-along?

• Nearly every major character in this film has a moment where he or she laughs forever, in that overwrought way only movie characters ever laugh.

• Reynolds sings Ace of Base’s “The Sign” in a piercing falsetto to drown out Jackson. No thanks.

• We get multiple jokes about rear ends — the sight of a butt, the smell of a butt, putting things in butts. I mean, come on.

This stuff is as stale and moldy as that half-finished bag of bagels you forgot to throw out before leaving for a three-week vacation.

Though set in the present day, Hughes’ European-set would-be thriller has the look and feel of a second-tier buddy movie from the 1980s or the 1990s.

The two talented leads, playing the obligatory enemies thrust together and forced to trust one another, exchange insults and quips between (and sometimes during) shootouts and car chases, barely pausing to take a breath after taking out henchman after henchman after henchman — and showing no regard for the hundreds upon hundreds of innocent motorists and pedestrians put at risk every time another blood-spilling confrontation breaks out in broad daylight.

In one particularly ludicrous and borderline offensive scene, Reynolds’ character is at an outdoor café in Amsterdam, complaining to the bartender about Jackson. As gunshots ring out and vehicles are overturned and innocent people scramble for safety, Reynolds just keeps on whining — not even turning around for the longest time.

What a jerk. Even though “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is clearly intended to be a hard-R cartoon, I say the scene is borderline offensive because there’s something seriously callous and cruel about Reynolds’ self-pitying monologue, given he’s a skilled gunman and fighter, and innocent people could well be dying directly behind him.

There’s nothing and no one to like in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” This is one loud, generic, forgettable late summer action flick.


Summit Entertainment presents a film directed by Patrick Hughes and written by Tom O’Connor. Rated R (for strong violence and language throughout). Running time: 111 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.