Truth and Movies

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Patrick Hughes


Ryan Reynolds Salma Hayek Samuel L Jackson


This looks very, very, very silly. (in a bad way)


This is very, very, very silly. (in a pretty okay way)

In Retrospect.

But you'd never want to watch it again.

This potty-mouthed road trip from Coventry to The Hague stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson and some top comic bants.

There’s a famous episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld in which mid-life malcontents Jerry and George sit across the table from one another at Monks cafe and discuss the etymological pleasures of the word “salsa”. They eventually deduce: “people love to say salsa.” Patrick Hughes’ film The Hitman’s Bodyguard makes similar claims about that eminently satisfying mainstay of movie invective: “motherfucker”. It is a term that never gets boring, and it almost takes on a different meaning depending on whose mouth it emanates from.

Samuel L Jackson plays world-renowned hitman Darius Kincaid, and there’s barely a sentence he utters which doesn’t employ the word “motherfucker” (or variations thereof), often as a prefix of a suffix. His foil, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), is an ex-CIA fancy boy who has succumbed to the lure of the private sector and set up his own security service, raking in filthy lucre from drug barons, arms dealers and the like. Bryce comments that Kincaid’s linguistic overuse of “motherfucker” might render it boring. He is ripping the life out of this hallowed cuss term. He’s normalising it.

The reality is – and screenwriters take note – “motherfucker” will never get boring, especially when it’s Samuel L Jackson spitting it out like its no big thing. What will get boring, however, is rote, cheapo buddy cop comedies which make zero effort mix up a tired formula. This film sees these one-time enemies thrown together in a unlikely accord, as Kincaid has to reach The Hague to testify against a Belarusian dictator (Gary Oldman, with some nice facial scabbing) who likes nothing more than to lend his political executions a personal touch. And what with the highest echelons of Interpol compromised, who better to assist than the currently out-on-his-ass Bryce?

The best you can say about The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that it knows its strengths and weaknesses, and as such, every scene is engineered to build an excuse for Jackson to say “motherfucker” on multiple occasions. It’s a word the actor clearly gleans much enjoyment and amusement from saying, and that unique passion is not lost on the camera. The strongest scenes are those in which the pair just bicker, making you ponder what this would’ve been like (and how much cash could’ve been saved) had this been a single set off-Broadway two hander – a Jackson/Reynolds Waiting for Godot would actually be amazing.

The plot is pure junk, with elements swiped from all manner of ’80s and ’90s action perennials. Elodie Yung slots anonymously into a dull love interest role, while Salma Hayek get something a little more juicy as Kincaid’s berserker moll. The soundtrack makes a decent play for all-time worst, with Bond-style filler Muzak rolled out over the action sequences (on set on the streets of Amsterdam is pretty nifty) and soul bangers inelegantly dropped elsewhere. It’s not clever, it’s not new, it’s not even that funny, but it does prove that, sometimes, a little screen chemistry can go a long way, motherfucker.

Published 15 Aug 2017

Tags: Comedy Gary Oldman Ryan Reynolds Salma Hayek Samuel L Jackson


This looks very, very, very silly. (in a bad way)


This is very, very, very silly. (in a pretty okay way)

In Retrospect.

But you'd never want to watch it again.

Suggested For You

Samuel L Jackson takes our 1990s movie poster quiz

By Little White Lies

We test the actor’s knowledge of ’90s movies – with one crucial twist...


By Adam Woodward

Marvel’s lewd crude crime-fighting dude, as played by Ryan Reynolds, is as unfunny as he is uninteresting.


Eight of the most outrageous buddy cop movies

By David Hayles

Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe’s antics in The Nice Guys got us thinking of other memorable mismatches.

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.