Review: 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' and 'Logan Lucky'

Even though the summer is coming to a close, there are two late-season films that should stick out for moviegoers.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is a buddy action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, while Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” features Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, and an abundance of recognizable actors in an offbeat heist comedy.

Directed by Patrick Hughes (“The Expendables 3”), the film is a hit and miss action comedy adventure that heavily relies on the chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson. The film also stars Elodie Yung, Salma Hayek, and Gary Oldman. While the film is filled with typical action comedy clichés and doesn’t always feel like top quality cinema, I was pleasantly surprised at the high level of comedy presented throughout.

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is a top rated executive protection agent, while Darius Kincaid (Jackson) is one of the world’s most dangerous assassins. When Kincaid is captured and forced to testify against a ruthless Eastern European dictator (played by Oldman) in order to free his wife (Hayek) from prison, Bryce is tasked to deliver Kincaid to the International Court of Justice. With an army of henchmen appearing at every turn, Bryce and Kincaid must put their differences aside to keep each other alive and reach their destination in time.

As a whole, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is not what I would call a top film, but the banter between Reynolds and Jackson is what makes it worth viewing for fans of this genre. The film is filled with violent large-scale action, language, and multiple cheap plot points and dialogue, yet the humorous, albeit aggressive rapport between leads is undeniable. Oldman plays a merciless dictator with a European accent, Elodie Yung (Elektra Natchios from Netflix’s “Daredevil”) fills the role of Reynold’s love interest and accompanying Interpol agent, while Salma Hayek plays a comical, loud mouth firecracker of a wife to Kincaid.

Similar to something like “The Expendables,” many aspects of this film fall short, but the screen time between the main characters provides some of the best parts of the movie. Part of the 2011 Black List (popular scripts not yet made) of unproduced screenplays, the film was originally written as a drama, but quickly changed to a comedy just weeks before production. While the film is receiving mixed reviews, most will agree Reynolds and Jackson’s performances make this slapstick-style action comedy worthy of battling “Logan Lucky” for the top spot at the box office this weekend.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is rated R for strong violence and language throughout. Running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes. 3 out of 5 stars.

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Starring an ensemble cast made up of Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Katherine Waterston, Dwight Yoakam, Sebastian Stan, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Hilary Swank, and a number of NASCAR driver cameos, “Logan Lucky” first appears as a simple heist comedy, yet turns out to be a carefully planned, well executed, properly directed, and a fantastically acted film.

In order to disprove a rumored family curse, siblings Jimmy Logan (Tatum), Clyde Logan (Driver), and Mellie Logan (Keough) construct an elaborate scheme to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 race. The Logans seek help from numerous outside sources, largely made up of another family that includes the incarcerated bomb specialist, Joe Bang (Craig) and air-headed brothers Sam (Gleeson) and Fish (Quaid). With the police and other town folk on the prowl, the Logans must carry out an elaborate plan where anything could happen.

At first glance, it’s difficult to know what to think, how to feel, or how to explain an unconventional film such as this. It starts out a little slow and mediocre but quickly takes off in all directions as the film introduces one oddball character after another in a small country town with little technology or educated citizens. Yet when these simple folk put their heads together, they’re able to accomplish a crime that rivals that of the ones in Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Trilogy.

Soderbergh had said he would retire following his 2013 film, “Behind the Candelabra,” but after reading the script for “Logan Lucky,” he decided to take on the project himself. As the filmmaker puts it, the new film is an “anti-glam version of an Ocean’s movie. Nobody dresses nice. They have no money. It’s all rubber band technology.” There has been speculation about the film’s credited screenwriter, Rebecca Blunt, who Soderbergh claims is a real person, yet has no previous credits and has never met anyone on the cast. Some believe this may actually be an alter ego for the filmmaker’s wife, Jules Asner, the comedian John Henson, or Soderbergh himself.

While the story seems a bit convoluted in the beginning, the final product adversely feels like a calculated masterpiece. The film walks the line between stupid and clever more times than not and provides a solid level of humor throughout. This high-spirited, one off comedy may not appeal to all audiences, but if you’re a fan of Soderbergh’s style, then “Logan Lucky” makes for a nice (supposedly) finale in the acclaimed filmmaker’s career. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gives a good description of the film saying, “Watching it is like finding money in the pocket of a coat that you haven’t worn in years.”

“Logan Lucky” is rated PG-13 for language and crude comments. Running time is 1 hour and 59 minutes. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Check out “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” and “Logan Lucky” in theaters this weekend.

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