The Hitman’s Bodyguard Review

The idea of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson acting in a buddy comedy together sounds like a match made in heaven. The type of roles they typically play are tremendously different, which would theoretically make for a highly interesting film. I say theoretically, because The Hitman’s Bodyguard perfectly displays the sad truth that, just because you have good actors, doesn’t mean you’ll have a good movie.

The film stars Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a protection agent who’s called upon to help protect a notorious hitman named Darius Kincaid (played by Sam Jackson). With a long, complicated history between them, Bryce must now escort Kincaid across Europe so that he may testify in court against a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman).

Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson are pretty funny as individual characters, but don’t work well off each other’s comedic style. Most attempts at jokes dragged on for far too long, and nobody in the theater was even laughing to begin with.

This poor comedic outcome is due to the writers going for the double act style of humor, which is what you see in most buddy comedies of this caliber. Double act works in films like Tango & Cash and Men in Black because the characters are written with complete opposite personalities. Well, herein lies part of the problem with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, as neither of our protagonists have well-defined personalities

Jackson was more severe than Reynolds, but neither ever stuck with a singular set of characteristics. Jackson would often go from being a cold-hearted killer to a more sensitive and understanding person, almost at the flick of a switch. So when the actors don’t have defined personalities, it’s hard for the audience to relate to one of those characters, which entirely defeats the purpose of double act.

The villain of the film, played by Gary Oldman, is a bland Eastern European stereotype with absolutely no depth to his character. After having just watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard, I can’t remember anything about him. Now, Gary Oldman is one of my favorite Hollywood actors, and I think he can play a very diverse range of roles. So I’m incredibly confused as to why he was given so little to do the entire film. He never says or does anything of importance, making his character one of the more forgettable villains of past months.

Some of the action scenes were energetic, while others were fairly lackluster. Take the grand boat chase seen for example. It has a mix of clever and generic moments, however what really ruins the chase sequence is that it goes on for an eternity. The best chase scenes (and action scenes as well) are short and to the point, condensing what the viewer is shown into the most exhilarating moments. The Hitman’s Bodyguard unfortunately wasn’t all that exhilarating, or exciting.

When you boil it down, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is about as standard as a buddy comedy can possibly get. It attempts to go through the same motions of other films in its genre, but because of the lopsided writing it fails to leave any lasting impression on the viewer. It had some funny, even hilarious scenes. However, even the most enjoyable moments of The Hitman’s Bodygurad are overshadowed by sloppy writing and a sense of mediocrity.

The Verdict: D+

-Zachary Flint

Life Review

Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, and Rebecca Ferguson as astronauts aboard the International Space Station, who recover a space probe returning from Mars. They discover that they found the first evidence of extraterrestrial life, an organism that gets nicknamed Calvin. Calvin begins growing at an alarming rate, eventually becoming strong enough to kill one of the crew members. It is now a fight for survival as the astronauts’ battle against a sophisticated being with no intent on letting them live.

I noticed very early on that Life was resembling many similar qualities as Gravity, as well as Ridley Scott’s Alien. Even the beginning title card was a callback to Alien. Since Alien is my favorite film, I was immediately skeptical of the direction this film was going in. My reservations ended up being unnecessary, as I was surprisingly fond of Life.

The alien (again, named Calvin) in Life was designed, in my opinion, pretty well. It looked kind of like a slimy starfish that could quickly move through space and easily kill any prey. In this day and age, it’s hard for filmmakers to create a completely original alien that sets it apart from every other movie alien. So with what the film was going for, I thought Calvin was a pretty satisfying (and creepy) alien.

The film attempts to use important dialogue on the meaning of life and our existence as a species, but it comes off as just pretentious and forced. As soon as the characters started talking in this sappy and overdramatic way, my eyes would about roll to the back of my head. Audiences have heard this exact dialogue a million times over, and Life isn’t doing anything new with it.

Despite the self-important dialogue, the characters were for the most part very likable. I wanted to see them survive, and I wanted to see them succeed in returning home. All the acting from every cast member (from Gyllenhaal to Hiroyuki Sanada) was pretty fantastic, and mighty convincing.

I also really liked the general tone and visual style to Life. The close quarters of the space craft gave me a sense of hopelessness and insecurity, like any of our main cast could be killed off at any second. The camera work seconded this, as it gave me a strong feeling of claustrophobia. Also noteworthy was the subtle use of lighting around the spaceship, oftentimes reflecting off a crew member’s face or illuminating a dimly lit room. I’ve always had a love for imaginative lighting styles, and Life supplies plenty of it.

Without discussing too much of how the film ends, I felt very disappointed in the last five minutes or so. It took Life in an unsatisfying and unnecessary direction, ultimately leaving a sour taste in the audiences’ mouths. The ending wasn’t horrible per se, I just think that it’s an overused and cop-out way to end a movie.

The biggest issue with Life is that it attempts to recycle dialogue and plot devices from many of its contemporaries. Essentially dooming itself to future obscurity in the process. It’s kind of like the 2013 film Elysium. It isn’t a bad film by any means, but how does Elysium stand out from other science fiction movies like Oblivion, Interstellar, Gravity, or The Martian? The answer? It doesn’t, not one bit. That’s because it’s your run-of-the-mill dystopian flick that makes few attempts at trying new things. Life, in many respects, is very similar.

Life has a lot of great qualities to it, and I had a lot of fun watching it. However, Life just doesn’t distinguish itself enough from all the other sci-fi films out there. With so many acting talents and skilled individuals behind the camera, I feel like they should’ve been able to accomplish this. Instead, I’m sure many will consider this just a slightly above average “stranded in space” movie.

Even with its crummy ending and recycled content, Life still managed to entertain me tremendously. I loved all the characters and their development in the story, as well as the design of the alien. The tone that the film sets is creepy and bleak, and the camera work kept the film interesting. Call me a sucker for science fiction films, but Life nonetheless gave me a worthwhile experience.

The Verdict: B

-Zachary Flint

Deadpool Review

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Over the past few years we have been brought seemingly countless numbers of superhero films, yet Deadpool still manages to be an original movie. It does this through being completely marketed to an adult audience and taking advantage of its R rating. It’s not recommended you take children to see this, as it is full of sex, nudity, language, violence, blood, and one seriously deranged superhero. However I feel it to be incorrect to call him a superhero, as Deadpool himself says so in the movie. He is much more of the classic antihero as he seems much more violent, provocative, and gung-ho than his X-Men counterparts.

Deadpool is foul mouthed, cheeky, and has a one of a kind eccentric personality. He consistently enjoys breaking the 4th wall and is full of witty pop culture references that people across generations can understand. At times he gets himself into horribly dangerous situations and still manages to crack funny one liners. He has no problem cutting through and gunning down enemies in the well-choreographed action scenes. Deadpool is quite possibly one of the raunchiest and most relentless comic book characters ever to be brought to the big screen.

The film stars Ryan Reynolds as the charming antihero Deadpool (real name being Wade Wilson) and follows his journey to get revenge on the men who tortured him and left his body scarred. The first half of the film is told partially by flashbacks in non-linear storytelling way. Through these flashbacks we get a look into Deadpool`s origin story and how he becomes an eccentric antihero. Along the way we meet many great characters including Deadpool`s love interest Vanessa played by Morena Baccarin. We also get a look into two of the X-Men, Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead who help Deadpool take on the movies villain in the third act. Both shall most likely appear in the next X-Men installment.

So far the movie has been a hit with audiences and a huge success at the box office, as it very well should. I highly recommend going to see Deadpool as it was a lot of fun. It kept me laughing at its often times macabre sense of humor and kept me engaged with its fast paced story telling. There was plenty of katana swinging, gun firing fighting that traditional action film fans will truly enjoy. I especially loved the little subtle moments of perfectly timed humor that made me tear up with laughter. Like how Deadpool takes the time to roll down the window of a toppled and destroyed SUV to get out. Instead of perhaps just kicking it down. Ryan Reynolds along with the rest of the cast of Deadpool do a fantastic and believable job. By the time it was over I left the theater wishing there was more. Deadpool continues to breathe new life into an ever growing universe of superhero movies. It is proof that there is plenty more superhero stories out there to tell. Even if they stray from the traditional way we view our heroes.

Zachary Flint