Review – No Hit Here (“The Hitman’s Bodyguard”)

What happens when an old 2011 dramatic screenplay gets greenlit for a movie, then the producers suddenly change their minds and want it to be a comedy instead? You get an eleventh-hour made picture that is about as clichéd riddled and plot-holed as you can find. Well, at least you have Deadpool and Nick Fury in it!

*

In an overused and boring plot you’ve seen a dozen times (Midnight Run, 16 Blocks), you have a disgraced bodyguard named Michael Bryce who, at one time, was a Triple ‘A’ Rated elite bodyguard (and keeps reminding you of this, ad naseum) until a client of his was expectantly killed. Years later we find Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a merciless Eastern European dictator, on trial in Amsterdam for his vicious war crimes. However, all witnesses to his atrocities are dead, except for Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a deadly hired assassin who’s locked up. Interpol strikes a deal with Kincaid: testify against Dukhovich and his hell-cat of a wife, Sonia (Selma Hayek), will go free from prison.

With that deal struck, transporting Darius from London to Amsterdam will be easy-peasy, right? Uh… not if you’re in THIS movie, it ain’t. Faster than you can say, “There’s a mole in Interpol”, a never-ending wave of Dukhovich’s bad guys come a’callin’ and each one apparently graduating from the Stormtroopers School Of Lousy Shooting. On the run for his life, Darius is helped by Bryce’s estranged ex-wife, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung). Naturally, with killers everywhere, she calls Bryce for help in getting Darius to the Amsterdam trial on time (cue the ol’ ticking clock trope).

Just as you’d expect, Darius and Bryce know and hate each other and would sooner ‘pop-a-cap’ in each other. It seems that Darius keeps shooting Bryce’s clients. But with the prospect of getting his Triple ‘A’ Rating status back, Bryce accepts and the two form a hate/hate friendship as both corrupt Interpol cops and Dukhovich’s goons are after them every step of the way. What does this mean? One very long chase from point A to point B, with not-so-witty banter between these two F-bomb dropping motor-mouth’s, the occasional backstory flashback, plus loads of car crashes, bullets flying, explosions, blood-splattered deaths, and the complete lack of serious human damage to any of our stars.

Patrick Hughes, who directed the laughable blood-bath actioner, The Expendables 3, does one thing right: he knows how to shoot stunts, car chases, explosions, and fights. That’s his forte and, God bless him, he ups his ante in this film with some pretty damn good car chase scenes. In fact, that’s about ALL this movie’s good for, as Tom O’Conner’s screenplay is filled with every conceivable cliché, weak plot, deus ex machina, bad dialogue, and plot holes ever written in any movie. You’d think with Reynolds and Jackson together you’d get some great witty banter written, but nooOOOoooo! This is only O’Connor’s second screenplay and you can see why.  

Reynolds, holding back his usual rat-a-tat-tat ad-libbing that defines his personality (although he sneaks in some), is very good and matches Jackson scene by scene; not an easy thing to do. Sam ‘mother-f’ing’ Jackson makes this look easy with his laid-back charm and charisma, even in the forced quiet moments. The gorgeous Hayek looks like she’s having a ball with her unhinged role, but poor French actress Elodie Yung is just window dressing here as the boys play with their toys. If it weren’t for the electric pairing of both Reynolds and Jackson, this movie would have jumped to the $5 straight-to-DVD bin at Walmart.          

   

Desperate Measures (1998)

*

Being forced to look out for a harden criminal against your will because you have to? Yup, that’s the premise of this rather awkward and silly actioner with Michael Keaton as a sociopathic serial killer with a special type blood. Sounds like fun, right?

In his lean film years after his brilliant portrayal of Batman–twice, Keaton did this yarn where he played an imprisoned killer named Peter McCabe, who has a very rare blood type. So rare, in fact, that it’s the only match for a 10-year-old Leukemia victim whose father is a desperate San Francisco police officer that’ll stop at nothing to save his son. Officer Frank Conner (Andy Garcia) comes up with an audacious plan: get McCabe out of prison long enough to be brought to a highly secured and newly renovated San Francisco hospital/prison where the bone marrow procedure can take place. The only snag is, McCabe ain’t havin’ none of it.

Through some convincing. . .and little dying Matthew Connor (Joseph Cross) visiting … McCabe agrees, but only to set about his ultimate escape plan, as witnessed by his superior intellectual scheming. Naturally, while in the hospital and just about to go under the knife, McCabe makes his moves and all hell breaks loose. BUT! Frank, against all odds, must make sure the safely and life of this lunatic so his blood is still viable; i.e., Frank can’t let this nutcase die! So, while McCabe cuts a swath of death and bodies trying to escape, Frank tries to recapture him alive and in one piece.

Meanwhile, McCabe sets about his Plan ‘B’ and lets all the other hospital prisoners loose as well, making a bad situation even worse. Police and the FBI want McCabe dead, Matt’s surgeon (Marcia Gay Harden) wants to perform the operation, Frank goes against his better judgment and becomes ‘partners’ with McCabe in hindering the police, and young Matthew is trying to figure out why likes this rampaging psycho-killer. The escape continues out into the streets, onto a busy freeway, and concludes (sorta) on a bridge. Yes, you get that happy ending, but also a cutsie wink ‘n’ nod to the camera from McCabe for the films credits ending.

Written by David Klass (and based on his novel), this screenplay isn’t without merit, but it certainly isn’t without it’s problems either. Directed by Barbet Schroeder (Single White Female), the plot is simple and hokey enough to work, but the execution is thrown off by the sheer ridiculousness of the whole escape scenario. Keaton’s McCabe employs the same kinda  ‘Jason Bourne’ super-smarts, but he can’t get out of that dang hospital for nearly the entire movie? Really? Funny, but Klass has “more than 40 screenplays written” according to Wikipedia, but only three other forgettable ones have been produced. Huh. I wonder why.

Schroeder does a fair job directing, but it’s Keaton and Garcia that are the ones that are trying SO hard to sell the picture. Keaton goes all ‘smouldering and intellectual’, while Garcia ranges from loving Dad to sheer nuts. Although the movie tanked at the box office, it really took its toll on Keaton, whose film career after this was a string of lousy movies peppered with some occasional gems. Thankfully, that bad luck streak was broken with 2010’s The Other Guys.   

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