By Stephanie Brandhuber

There was a time when buddy movies were a screen-staple, from cop-camaraderie capers like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Bad Boys, to kooky odd-couple misadventures like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and The Blues Brothers. Popularised most emphatically in the 1980s and 1990s, this genre of pal-centric cinema was a safe bet for drawing in a movie-going crowd. Over the years, however, the buddy movie has slowly slipped out of favour, and is now more often seen as a likely box-office flop than an instant crowd-pleaser.

There is no doubt a multitude of reasons why buddy movies have lost their popularity. One of the most obvious explanations though is their prescriptive plot-lines and their predictability. Whereas these might have been reasons for return customers back in the day, today’s audiences are more to likely to perceive this type of goofy repetitiveness as banal and unfashionable.

Queue The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Hollywood’s latest failed attempt to bring the buddy movie back into favour. Starring two blockbuster favourites, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, The Hitman’s Bodyguard follows the two leads on an unevenly-tempoed, explosive and expletory chase across Europe. The plot revolves around protection agent Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who begrudgingly accepts to escort infamous hitman Darius Kincaid to The Hague to testify against Belarusian war-criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Along the way, bullets fly, motherf***ers abound, and interminable action sequences break up an altogether lacklustre script.

Despite Reynolds’ and Jackson’s undeniable charisma, the film’s predictable plot-line allows for nothing new from either of the two main leads. Samuel L. Jackson is his typically badass self, and Ryan Reynolds’ goofy yet measured persona is the same as we’ve seen in virtually any other Reynolds-starring role. Salma Hayek intermittently shows up as Kincaid’s foul-mouthed wife, but even her Latina hellcat spiel fails to raise the plot above steady tedium.

Although it’s nice to see Hollywood not giving up on this meat-and-veg staple of cinema, The Hitman’s Bodyguard fails to bring anything innovative to the table. The closest we’ve seen to a breath of fresh air in this particular type of film was last year’s The Nice Guys, whose nostalgic throwback to the 70s was perhaps its saving grace in a otherwise hackneyed genre. Sadly, The Hitman’s Bodyguard puts little of the same effort into trying to be anything except what it says on the tin, which is itself seems to be very much past its expiration date.

(Photos copyright: Bodyguard Productions, Campbell Grobman Productions, Cristal Pictures, East Light Media)

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