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The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Chemistry is an important part of a film’s success. If the leads fail to gel as a believable team, a movie can quickly sink. Whether it is romance, drama, comedy or action, chemistry plays a huge role in driving the story along which ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ highlights. With the ever breezy Ryan Reynolds and the consistently bad-ass Samuel L Jackson as leads, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ already has much going for it. It needs to as their presence enlivens a very predictable screenplay with a plot failing to match their spirited performances.

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is an in-demand bodyguard whose skills are second to none. After a case goes horribly wrong, his reputation is in tatters. When enlisted to protect notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson), Bryce enthusiastically accepts. Seizing the chance to salvage his ruined career, Bryce gradually learns why Kincaid needs protection. Having information that could put evil dictator Vladislav (Gary Oldman) in jail for life, Kincaid is a wanted man. When Vladislav sends an army of killers on their trail, Bryce and Kincaid form a reluctant partnership in order to survive.

A word that could describe ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is ‘bland’. Whilst Jackson and Reynolds deliver rousing performances and the action is incredible, the script is banal. Those who haven’t seen an action movie in the last decade may be surprised by its revelations, although others may get a sense of déjà vu. Director Patrick Hughes tries hard putting flair into the by the numbers screenplay, but even his enthusiasm can’t hide the overlong film’s general ho-hum nature.

‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ thrives on its action scenes. They are incredibly realised and use the foreign locales well. The stunt-work gone into creating these sequences is amazing with the performers giving them their all. The banter between Jackson and Reynolds is great even if tonally the film is all over the place. The minor exploration of the nature of good and evil gives things vague depth but generally the plot gives way to the action which is its main asset.

Having genuinely funny moments and plenty of colourful pizazz, ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’ is silly hokum. It isn’t that memorable and could have benefited with copious editing. For a ‘no-brain’ action comedy, it achieves its target and is dopey fun if you like no-frills thrills.

Rating out of 10: 6

American Made

‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ is an often used phrase. All fiction is based on reality one way or another with true-life tales often more engrossing with ‘American Made’ being a fine example. The story it presents feels fanciful yet plausible. It helps having Tom Cruise as its lead as he has made a career of portraying characters to which audiences can relate. Assisted by Doug Liman’s tight direction, ‘American Made’ is an outlandish tale ripped from yesterday’s headlines.

Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is a former airline pilot working with a dubious crowd. Discarding the clean life and now smuggling drugs into Central America, Barry is enjoying the life of easy money and dark crimes. His wife Lucy (Sarah Wright) tries to keep out of his wayward life which is made harder by the arrival of the C.I.A. Recruiting Barry to provide intelligence into the main cartel he’s involved with, the federal agency takes no prisoners. With both the government and criminals on his trail, Barry’s actions have consequences reaching all the way to the White House.

‘American Made’ is an entertaining history lesson. Filling in the details of a scandal that engulfed Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, it explores the main players in a tawdry saga. Whilst events are played in a heightened manner, you can see how certain people justified their actions. In Tom Cruise’s energetic performance, Barry is an opportunist who goes with the flow as long as it suits his needs. His dealings with various suspect types alter his mindset and determination to live life to the fullest.

Liman’s focussed direction mixes the drama and humour well. Although its subject matter is serious, ‘American Made’ presents it in a rousing manner mirroring its high-flying excessive 1980’s period setting. Greed was certainly good for Barry and his cohorts with little of the screenplay feeling drawn out. There’s hardly a dull moment with real-life figures given bouquets and brickbats in gleefully equal doses.

Tom Cruise again proves his gift for picking the right material. He is well cast in ‘American Made’ with his co-stars giving their all in an engaging movie. Although some situations may have been changed for narrative purposes, this true-life tale still fascinates decades after its denouncement.

Rating out of 10: 7