Whatever tolerance you have for snarkiness, indiscriminate collateral damage and Samuel L. Jackson yelling “Motherfucker!” will be sorely tested by this obnoxious action brom-com. Basically a jacked-up do-over of The Bodyguard, with Ryan Reynolds in the Kevin Costner role and Jackson as Whitney Houston (he even sings), it throws together a pair of actors from opposite ends of the Marvel universe in the hope their separate screen personas will combine to generate that elusive gold dust: chemistry.
What actually happens is they cancel each other out, with Reynolds’ mordant deadpan and muted underplaying leaving Sam with little option but to ramp the shouty, sweary stridency way up. Reynolds is Michael Bryce, an ‘executive protection agent’ with a triple-A rating (what, on Quip Advisor?), who we first see losing one of his clients to an unseen assassin’s bullet.
Brought low by the botched assignment, he’s understandably wary when an ex from Interpol (Daredevil’s Elodie Yung) offers him a job: to ensure killer for hire turned star witness Darius Kincaid (Jackson) lives long enough to testify against a vile Belarusian despot (Gary Oldman, phoning it in) on trial for war crimes.
It goes without saying that Mike and Darius have a past that puts them at each other’s throats from the second they’re reacquainted. (“The only way Bryce and Kincaid don’t make it is if they kill each other first!” clarifies Yung, pointlessly.) With a seemingly limitless number of heavily armed goons on their tail, though, they’re forced to put aside their differences as they embark on a 24-hour road trip from Blighty to The Hague that inevitably comes with as much bickering badinage as it does explosions, gunfire and fisticuffs.
Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) keeps his leads in perpetual motion, switching them from cars to boats to motorbikes and back again in the optimistic expectation it will energise a formulaic and predictable plotline. (One efficient chase sequence on the waterways of Amsterdam utilises all three.) Oldman’s terrorist tactics, unfortunately, can’t help but strike a nerve in the light of recent tragic events, not least when they stretch to bomb-laden lorries detonating outside crowded public buildings. Salma Hayek, meanwhile, is poorly served as Jackson’s incarcerated wife, who’s almost as shouty and sweary as her other half.
A senselessly violent flashback, incidentally, reveals that the moment the couple fell in love coincided with that time she severed a bloke’s carotid artery with a broken bottle. Now who says romance is dead?