A plethora of clichés.
2017’s summer blockbusters fizzle to a halt with this formulaic action comedy. Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool“) plays Michael Bryce: a cocksure “Triple A rated” bodyguard, always planning three steps ahead so that he can protect his clients without killing anyone in the process. With such arrogance, a fall is inevitable. On the other side of the legal scales is Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson, “The Hateful Eight“), a contract killer who always gets his man. But the incarcerated Kincaid is offered a deal to release his equally incarcerated wife Sonia (Selma Hayek) in return for testifying against the fearsome Belarus president Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”), on trial for war crimes at The Hague. An Interpol team led by Bryce’s’s ex-squeeze Amelia Roussel (the striking Elodie Yung) now have to get Kincaid to Belgium unscathed with Dukhovich’s well-trained and well-armed thugs stopping at nothing to ensure he won’t be there to testify. Fate transpires that Bryce and Kincaid become an unlikely team in trying to bring Dukhovich to justice.
This is a movie whose script seems to have been glued together from a patchwork of other movie scenes:
– the bad guy / bad guy partner relationship of “The Nice Guys“. Check.
– the street ambush of “Clear and Present Danger”. Check.
– the Amsterdam boat chase of “Puppet on a Chain”. Check.
– the comedic bar-room brawl from “Airplane”. Check.
Many of the action scenes are done with panache and some great stunt work. But it’s all stuff we’ve seen countless times before, so what is needed for differentiation is the relationships between Bryce and Kincaid: this needs to be the cornerstone of the film. But it just doesn’t quite work. Jackson’s contribution is never in doubt, even though we’ve seen this motherf-ing shtick countless times before: he’s still magnetic, charismatic and a joy to watch. But unfortunately Reynolds just doesn’t deliver the acting goods to make the banter believable: there is a reason “Deadpool” is his best film – he wears a mask for most of it! His ‘puppy-dog look’ gets rolled out multiple times, but it’s unconvincing in the extreme. Together they are no match for Gosling/Crowe in “The Nice Guys“.
On firmer ground is the quirky relationship between Mr and Mrs Kincaid. Although sharing limited screen time together, Hayek and Jackson spark off each other wonderfully. Seeing Selma Hayek in uncharacteristically sweary and belligerent mode was highly entertaining (although it’s worth commenting that my wife took great offence to the ‘comic’ bullying of an overweight cellmate).
Elsewhere in the acting roll call, Elodie Yung delivers just the right measure of cuteness, toughness and passion as Roussel, but Oldman delivers a full-on retread of his Ivan “Get off my plane” Korshunov from “Air Force One”. There is also a change to Oldman’s character’s face at the end of the film in the form of a rampant skin complaint which is ‘explained’ by a clumsily inserted news item about an “attempted poisoning”: it’s such a clunky and bizarre addition to the script that it made me wonder whether the actor has some unexpected ailment (like shingles) during filming…. but I can see nothing related to this online.
The screenplay by relative newcomer Tom O’Connor bumps along from implausible action scene to implausible action scene, with more that its fair share of ‘WTF’ moments. For example, after a random chase through multiple Amsterdam alleys and shops, Jackson pulls up outside the very DIY shop Reynolds ends up in to pick him up! The script is also tonally uneven throughout: given this is supposed to be an “action comedy” the action is often brutal and unpleasant and the comedy – in the main – just not funny enough. (About the funniest thing in the film are the most ineffective sub machine guns known to man, most notably in the mildly ludicrous, if well staged, boat chase scene!)
The film also manages to offend, in more ways than the 15-rated violence and language used: I’m not sure WHEN this movie was actually filmed, but the use of an articulated lorry as a terrorist weapon towards the end of the film is certainly in very poor taste after the events of Nice, London and Barcelona. Not appreciated.
Directed by Patrick Hughes (“The Expendables 3″…. say no more) this hodge-podge of a flick is sporadically entertaining, but is one I will struggle to remember in a couple of months time.
Fad Rating: FFF.