By Debbie Stowe

 

DIRECTOR: Patrick Hughes

STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek

ON AT: Movieplex Cinema, Grand Cinema & More, Hollywood Multiplex, Cinema City Cotroceni, Cinema City Sun Plaza, Cinema City Mega Mall, Cinema City ParkLake

 

To another maverick gun-for-hire, this time in the person of Samuel L. Jackson. Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is on trial at The Hague for various atrocities (the brutal depiction of which strikes a discordant note in what is otherwise a fairly funny action-comedy). But the case is on the point of collapse, as the tyrant has killed off all the potential witnesses.

All except one, that is: jailed titular hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson), who has been persuaded to testify by the promise of his wife’s (Salma Hayek) release from prison. Through various plot turns, Kincaid ends up on the run, with only a washed-up bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) protecting him from Dukhovich’s henchmen and the Interpol insiders on the despot’s payroll.

For most of the running time, this is a road movie, with much of the comedy derived from the “odd couple” pairing – the “by the book” uptight young buck and free-wheeling old-timer forced together by circumstances. Both are well cast, with Reynolds, funny in his own right too, a suitable foil for Jackson’s trademark fierce rants. They each make the most of their roles, with the duo’s chemistry powering the film along its largely predictable trajectory.

There is a lot of violence (though given the title, this isn’t really a surprise) and a lot of swearing, especially from Hayek, in a highly stereotyped fiery Latina role. The fight sequences take time away from the more enjoyable scenes of humorous interplay between the leads, although they’re well done.

Jackson and Reynolds probably deserved a better movie, but still fire on all cylinders in this one.