If you can swim through the tsunami of profanities you will enjoy The Hitman’s Bodyguard – a loose remake of the1988 DeNiro vehicle Midnight Run.
When you are in the mood for a  milkshake you don’t complain that it is not a chocolate mousse. If you go to a church fair you would be foolish to be disappointed that it does not compare to Disneyland. To attend a local rock band’s concert and wonder why they didn’t play like the Philharmonic Symphony is simply delusional. So when I knew Samuel L  “&*%@*^!%$” Jackson and Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds were in an action adventure buddy movie, I knew what I was getting into and I'm reviewing Hitman based on its genre and how it meets those expectations. I have to admit, though, they had me with the title. It was kind of irresistible to see where they were going to go with that.
First off, if you are offended by profanity —- wait until it comes on TV – but keep it mind it will then probably be a silent movie. There’s enough bad language to fatigue the ears of your average sailor. On the other hand there is no sex, no insults to our country and Jackson’s character shows respect and affection for nuns, which is more than you can say for a lot of what IS shown now on TV.
Judging the movie based on the species from which it comes, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a good movie. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not even The Avengers. But it is fun – full of ludicrous car chases, preposterously survived stunts, a LOT of cartoon violence, snarky banter, and a plot with a fair amount of heart.
Ryan Reynolds is Michael Bryce, a previously “Triple A” security expert. Former CIA operative, he was at the top of his game protecting the unprotectables – gun runners, drug smugglers, Mafiosos – for a lot of moolah – until one day, despite his best laid, always meticulously thought out plans, he fails and one of his notorious clients gets “popped”. Reduced to protecting corrupt middle class drug addicted lawyers, we find he has lost his firm, his girlfriend and a lot of his faith in the way the world should work. Believing that HE could never have made a mistake he blames others, including the woman he loves, for things that go wrong in his life.
As fate would have it he ends up being asked to escort a professional assassin, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) to be a witness against a dictator (Gary Oldman) with whom Kincaid had a previous association.
One of the charms of this movie is that the stereotypes do not hold. Jackson’s Darius believes he is on the side of the angels as he kills only bad guys. He notes that Michael protects the really evil and brings up a surprisingly philosophical question for a goofy action flick: who is committing the more immoral act – those who kill men who commit great evil or those who protect them? It is the hitman who is the Jiminy Cricket and the Bodyguard who has the most interesting character arc.
The team from Lake Charles Best Sports Show on our local McNeese State University’s KBYS do about a ½ hour of culture on every Sunday morning before they get into the heavy duty sports commentaries. They are gracious enough to take my calls about movies and when mentioning I might go see The Hitman’s Bodyguard, out of the blue Corey said: “I wonder whatever happened to Charles Grodin?” I suddenly remembered he had been in Midnight Run and that got me thinking. Midnight Run starred Charles Grodin as a meek accountant who is on the run, captured by Robert DeNiro’s bounty hunter in order to bring him to court to testify against a mobster. DeNiro is rough and lives in his leather jacket and his beat up car whereas Reynold’s former CIA agent is refined and has retractable closets full of thousand dollar suits – at least until "that fateful day". Grodin's witness is quiet, soft spoken, polite and a bit like Eeyore whereas Jackson's witness is at the peak of his game here as an assassin whose infectious optimism and good humor set the tone of the movie. Reynolds is kind of adorable as the straight man to Jackson who steals every scene as he sings with nuns, laughs with gusto, shoots, improvises plans and has the time of his life in every situation. I could hardly tell whether he was acting or just having a LOT of fun being paid to play act. Either way Jackson is a hoot to watch.
But there are a lot more commonalities than differences between the two movies.
Here are my Top Ten Reasons why The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a remake of Midnight Run:
1. Both are buddy movies – cop with criminal.
2. In both a cop  is taking witness/criminal to testify, necessitating a long hazardous trip.
3. Defendant against whom the witness will testify is trying to kill the witness and sends multiple thugs and professional hitmen against them.
4. The criminal/witness has it more together than the cop.
5. The criminal has a devoted spouse whereas the cop/bodyguard’s romantic life is in shambles. In Midnight Run Robert DeNiro is divorced. In Hitman, Reynold’s Michael blamed his girlfriend as the source of a leak which caused his client’s death, resulting in an acrimonious break up.
6. Both DeNiro’s bounty hunter in Midnight Run and Reynold’s ex-CIA/security guard are unfairly disgraced – DeNiro by corrupt cops who got him thrown out of the police force and Reynold’s by the death of his client by a freakishly successful sniper shot.
7. Grodin’s criminal/witness character and Jackson’s assassin teach their respective escorts how to better communicate with and treat those they love, and know a lot more about women than their supposedly worldly counterparts.
8. In both movies the criminals have a strict moral code they follow which, though they break laws, are intended to protect the innocent and in their own minds are the heroes.
9. In both movies the witnesses become involved with those they are to testify against because they did not know what kind of business these people were in until it was too late and they subsequently refused to work with them any more.
10. In both the character arc is with the representative of law and order.
In a bonus point – there’s even an explicit homage to Midnight Run. During one particular chase scene my brother noticed a musical theme present in the soundtrack for Hitman that was featured heavily in Midnight Run. Since my brother has seen Midnight Run about a dozen times by his own count I would count this as a credible catch.
That being said though, Hitman is a stand alone movie which works on its own level – again, in its genre.
CAUTION: Do not bring the children, do not even bring older teens. But if you can tolerate an Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor comedy act then your hair won’t curl overly much and you will have a good time. And if you are of a mind to be at all thoughtful about it, it will also give you food for thought about the people who are most important to you and how your commitment to them will form your world view which will, in turn, guide and shape your life. Like Mary Poppins, the best lessons in movies come at you when you are not looking. I ended up thinking more about this movie than I expected to.
And on top of all that I never knew before that Samuel L J could sing!!


  1. Hey, came to this same conclusion after watching this and had to google search to see if anyone else had noticed it too. I agree totally. But you left out one other similarity. In both movies there was that inside leak. One of the people close to Joe Pantoliano (who plays the bails bondsman that hires De Niro) in Midnight Run kept giving away the location of De Niro and Grodin to the Mob guys. And here in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Interpol agent Foucher is doing the same thing, leaking their locations to the bad guys. Like your brother, I’ve watched Midight Run at least a dozen times. It was one of my favorites….Still is.

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