Director Patrick Hughes first feature length film was an Australian western called "Red Hill" that was fairly decent and showed some promise for the young director. It was good enough that it landed him the job helming "Expendables 3" four years later.


While "Expendables 3" was poorly received in the US and was pretty much a repeat of the first two, it gave Hughes some valuable experience working with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood - even if they were on the sunset side of their carreers. Only Harrison Ford and Jason Statham could be considered still at the top of their game. Nevertheless, he had to pick up something from Sylvester Stalloone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas.


I'm guessing that is why he was hired to direct Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in the screen adaptation of Tom O'Connor's script "The Hitman's Bodyguard". Much like "Expendables 3" Hughes wasn't working with a great story, but he did have a couple of capable actors that could make it work.

The premise of the story has Reynolds as Mike Bryce, a high level personal security guard who protects the lives of many extremely high profile targeted VIPs. He never fails to protect; he's never lost a client. Until the opening five minutes of the film when he loses his first. He also loses his credibility and his girlfriend Amelia (Elodie Young). Next thing we know he's down to protecting anyone with a buck.


On the other end, we have Darius Kinkaid (Samuel L Jackson) who is at the top of his game as a hitman. He rarely misses, except when Bryce was protecting them. So they've crossed each other's path no less than 27 times. As a hitman, Kinkaid is accustomed togetting out of jams, but he nevertheless gets caught while he's trying to break his wife (Salma Hayek) out of prison. Now he's caught but he happens to be the only person in the world who can finger a big time terrorist named Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldham) from Belarus.


He makes a deal to testify against Dukhovich if hi wife is released. But Dukhovich hears of the deal and sends an army of goons to kill him before he can get to court. Amelia, feeling that Bryce is the only one [left] to protect Kinkaid offers to give him back his old job if he can deliver Kincaid on time. Naturally, this should be interesting since they can't stand each other.


What follows is a over the top adventure that could make "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" blush. Jackson plays the hilariously sarcastic comic and Reynolds is his sober foil. Oldman was acceptable and the rest were underused as the film becomes a two-man two-hour romp. If you think that "Atomic Blonde" was indestructable, wait till you see Jackson's Kinkaid.


To bad the film didn't develop pass the slapstick and more of the cast wasn't included. Still, for some guilty foolishness, the film hits the spot.


"The Hitman's Bodyguard" is far, far, far from being a good film, but it is totally entertaining with it's fast-paced slapstick. Samuel L Jackson is a hoot as the funny man and Ryan Reynolds hold his own as the straight man.   -- GEOFF BURTON