A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Hitman's Bodyguard is a violent, swearing-filled buddy action-comedy about two men who are experts with guns, but for different reasons: Samuel L. Jackson plays an infamous hit man, while Ryan Reynolds plays a bodyguard-for-hire. Not surprisingly, there's tons of gun use; expect frequent shoot-outs with automatic/semi-automatic weapons, as well as explosions, close-up brawls/killings, and an enormous body count. But, thanks to the stars, there's also a whole lot of humor ... as well as nonstop cursing, particularly "f--k" and "motherf----r." There are underlying themes of teamwork and redemption, but the plot also includes disturbing scenes related to a genocidal Belarusian dictator (Gary Oldman) whom Jackson is supposed to testify against. The tyrant is known for committing widespread murder of any man, woman, or child he considered an enemy. A few scenes show drinking and kissing, as well as lingering shots of women's bodies, but violence and language are the main issues here.
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What's the story?
THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD starts with a tightly edited glimpse at the life of a high-end bodyguard for hire: London-based Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) dons a beautiful suit, holsters shiny guns, and manages to keep a Japanese millionaire from harm -- until he's unexpectedly and unavoidably killed. Two years later, Bryce has gone from being a slick personal security officer to a low-rent bodyguard for shady types with cash. Meanwhile, renowned contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) accepts an offer from INTERPOL: He'll trade his eye-witness testimony against a Belarusian dictator (Gary Oldman) in exchange for the freedom of his wrongfully imprisoned wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek). With most of the other witnesses against the tyrant turning up missing or dead, Kincaid must make it from Manchester to The Hague in just one day. After the initial INTERPOL escort team is ambushed by a Belarusian kill squad, leader Amelia (Elodie Yung) calls Bryce -- who happens to be her ex -- to personally accompany Kincaid to the international court. It turns out the hit man and the bodyguard have a history, but together they manage to hilariously put their differences aside, shoot whomever needs to be shot, and find their way on a mission for good ... for once.
Is it any good?
This action-comedy is unnecessarily violent and has an uneven tone, but the comedic banter between Jackson and Reynolds is undeniable. If only there was slightly less bloodlust and a less over-the-top body count, The Hitman's Bodyguard would have been a fine example of an odd-couple comedy bromance. No one's performance is a stretch: Jackson is a quick-witted, foul-mouthed, eyebrow-raising assassin who justifies his work, a role he's been perfecting since Pulp Fiction, while Reynolds is a sharp-tongued, super-detailed bodyguard who can't stop talking. No surprises there, but there was no guarantee the two stars would click, and they do.
The rest of the movie is bolstered by a funny supporting turn from Hayek, who plays Kincaid's beloved Sonia. She calls her husband her cucaracha ("cockroach") because he's basically "unkillable." She's right. The action sequences are nearly nonstop, and each shows how Kincaid is the grim reaper, but with a gun instead of a scythe. The parts of the movie featuring Oldman's irredeemable dictator, Dukhovich, are considerably less funny and should come with a trigger warning. A leader who kills a man's wife and child in front of him and is responsible for genocide is a little too scary and realistic for times when you'd be forgiven for hoping that a buddy comedy would prove to be pure escapism.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Hitman's Bodyguard. Does the movie's humor affect its impact? How does it compare to the violence in other action movies you've seen? Does exposure to violent media make kids more aggressive?
Do you think audiences are more comfortable hearing strong language when it comes from certain actors, like Jackson? When we hear actors swear frequently, does that lessen the impact of the words?
Compare this buddy comedy adventures to other similar movies. What do you notice about them? How does this one stack up to other favorites?
How would you describe the role of the movie's female characters? Did you notice any stereotypes?
- In theaters: August 18, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: November 21, 2017
- Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek
- Director: Patrick Hughes
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 111 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence and language throughout
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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