East Penn Press

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: ‘Hitman’ amiss

Friday, September 1, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

A truck drives into a crowd in the Netherlands, crashes and explodes.

Police, Interpol and international spies in high-end SUVs chase a suspect through city streets, smashing into vehicles.

An anti-crime expert is tortured, including the use of blindfolding and electric shock.

This is not fake news.

It is not real news.

It is “reel,” though, as in scenes from “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” theatrical feature movie.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is slick, fast-paced, and expertly-made. It’s a spy versus spy thriller in the style of “The Bourne Identity,” “Mission Impossible” and “James Bond” movies. That’s the good news, and the bad news.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” unfolds with one chase scene after another, one scene after another that places the public in peril (admittedly, fictional, but frighteningly realistic), and one scene after another where gun violence, fighting, martial arts, and other scenes of physical conflict are often played for jeers (the juxtaposition of familiar pop and rock tunes as, for example, “Hello” by Lionel Richie, and “Little Queenie” by Chuck Berry, lends an irony of director Quentin Tarantino and his “Reservoir Dogs” to the proceedings).

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is billed as an Action-Comedy. That’s entertainment.

Or is it?

Patrick Hughes (director, “The Expendables 3,” 2014; “Red Hill,” 2010) directs “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from an original screenplay by Tom O’Connor (screenwriter, “Fire With Fire,” 2012). The cleverly-titled movie never gets much beyond the clever title. The movie is padded with one, admittedly incredible, action scene after action scene with not enough attention paid to character development.

That’s too bad because in scenes where Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), “The Hitman,” and Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), the “Bodyguard,” banter and give each the side-eye shade, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” sizzles. The wry facial expressions and dour mouth of Reynolds is right from Wade Wilson-Deadpool in “Deadpool,” 2016. The eye-rolling, profane invectives of Jackson is right from almost every role he does. Reynolds and Jackson recall Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson) in “Pulp Fiction” (1994).

The storyline isn’t much to write home about, nor write a movie review about, for that matter. Basically, Kincaid is to testify at the International Court of Justice against Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), the dictator of Belarus, for alleged crimes against humanity.

A subplot involves Bryce and his girlfriend, Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), an Interpol agent. However, their relationship is presented as not much more than a character sketch. The movie-goer doesn’t gets much of a sense of the depth of their relationship.

Similarly, the relationship between Kincaid and his wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), is deployed more as a denouement. Effective as that is, more screen time between Jackson and Hayek would have put more skin in the game for their characters.

That said, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” provides spectacular action sequences. The chase scenes are right up there with the best on the big screen. Production design, cinematography, and editing is superb. However, representations of violence are frequent and often graphic.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is of chief interest for fans of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. One senses the potential for a sequel.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard,”MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.) for strong violence and language throughout; Genre: Action, Comedy; ‘ Run time: 1 hr., 58 mins.; Distributed by Lionsgate.

Credit Readers Anonymous:Sit through “The Hitman’s Bodygard” end credits for an out-take of Ryan Reynolds and the film crew waiting for a church bell to stop ringing so that filming of a scene can begin. The movie was filmed on location in London; Amsterdam, and other Netherlands locations, and in Bulgaria. Samuel L. Jackson sings “Nobody Gets Out Alive” over the end credits.

Box Office,Aug. 25: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” bumped off the competition two weeks in a row (in what was said to be the slowest weekend box office in 15 years) with a repeat at No. 1 with $10 million and $39.6 million, two weeks, as “Annabelle: Creation” continued at No. 2, with $7.3 million, $77.8 million, three weeks, with “Leap!” opening at No. 3 with $5 million.

4. “Wind River” flowed up six places, $4.4 million, $9.8 million, four weeks.

5. “Logan Lucky” held at No. 5, with $4.4 million, $15 million, two weeks.

6. “Dunkirk” dropped two slots, with $3.9 million, $172.4 million, six weeks.

7. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” again hung on at No. 7, with $2.7 million, $318.8 million, eight weeks.

8. “Mayweather vs. McGregor,” in what seems to be a first for the pugilistic arts, opening and closing, $2.6 million, one week.

9. “Birth of the Dragon,” $2.5 million, one week.

10. “The Emoji Movie” showed a four-place drop, $2.3 million, $76.4 million, five weeks.

Unreel,Sept. 1:

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,”PG: Steven Spielberg directs Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, and Melinda Dillon in the Science-Fiction Drama. In the movie theater re-release of the 1977 modern classic, an encounter with UFOs leads a utility line worker to, yes, a close encounter of the third kind, aka contact with an alien.

“Unlocked,”R: Michael Apted directs Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette, and Orlando Bloom in the Action-Thriller. A CIA agent is hoodwinked in a planned biological attack on London.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes