It is a truth commonly known that when one goes into a theater to view a Hollywood action movie, certain things will always occur. The characters (including the bad guys) will be able to hotwire any vehicle they encounter necessary for participating in a thrilling high-speed chase. The characters (including the bad guys) will never injure themselves by hitting an artery which would result in a lot of spurting blood – blood in action movies usually does nothing but politely trickle down the side of the hero’s face – even when he launches himself through a plate glass window to evade the explosion. The owner of the store you ransack for weapons to duel your enemy or whose vending cart you smash with your hijacked vehicle will never sue you in the aftermath for causing so much damage. And if the two leads – as in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, spend the entire movie bickering – it means they will either fall in love or here, kiss and make up in a manly platonic sort of way by the credits
In the original “Bodyguard,” Kevin Costner starts the movie under a cloud because when he took a day off his job to attend a funeral, the man he usually protected wound up seriously hurt, – before Kevin is assigned to guard Whitney Houston. In the remake, Ryan Reynolds starts the movie looking glum because of a botched job that resulted in the assassination of the man he was supposed to be protecting a couple of years ago. For reasons I was never quite clear on except that there has to be some reason for them being on the outs, Ryan blames fellow agent, Elodie Yung, for being indiscreet and causing the death of the foreign dignitary. Now Ryan must suffer all sorts of indignities on the lower rungs of the bodyguard hierarchy, such as having to drive a car that smells (literally) “like ass,” no matter how many times it’s washed. However, we know he has a secret heart of gold because he rescues the dog of the jerk he’s protecting (who is more concerned about his vintage Rolls being blown up).
In order to regain his original elite position, Ryan agrees to act as the bodyguard of Samuel L. Jackson, who is due to testify against an evil Russian villain (Gary Oldman, here looking vaguely like Steve Bannon). Also Samuel’s beloved wife (Salma Hayek) is in prison, although how she landed there, I’m not exactly sure, though it gives her an excuse to curse a lot and act feisty, plus a sweet scene where Samuel attempts to deliver tulips. In the end, of course, Samuel makes it to court, and there’s even more explosions/pursuits to come after he finishes testifying. Virtually every vehicle one might use in Europe (where it takes place) is utilized, and both men wind up with their desired love interest. Gary makes a dramatic speech at the end but gets his comeuppance. The movie is less witty than last year’s “The Nice Guys,” but if you want an end-of-the-summer action film that requires absolutely no mental effort to enjoy, this is a decent bet.