Sunday 1 October 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard by Tom O'Connor

Once upon a time, being on the Hollywood Blacklist was a very bad thing. But these days the Script Blacklist is quite different; it's actually a good thing. It's the nickname for an annual summary of the best unproduced screenplays making the rounds.

So if you end up on it, there's a very good chance that next year your script will be produced. And that's what happened to Tom O'Connor with his screenplay, The Hitman's Bodyguard.

And it was when I heard about the Blacklist connection that this movie went from 'Get thee behind me satan' to 'Hmmm... maybe I'll go and see it after all.'

And it's not bad, at all. Admittedly I hated the dumb, lazy names of some of the characters — I mean, Asimov? Kurosawa? (And not just Kurosawa, but Takeshi Kurosawa — that's two Japanese film directors, if you're counting.) 

But there’s much more to this movie. And it’s often genuinely funny, and indeed even genuinely thrilling. There's a three sided chase — cars, motorcycle and speedboat in an Amsterdam canal — which is the first effective car chase I’ve seen in quite a while. 

Unfortunately it's followed by a long and tedious car chase and shoot out en route to the Hague. But after that there is a very effective foot chase and hand to hand fight scene in a kitchen and a tool shop to the strains of Chuck Berry’s ‘Little Queenie’. 

The European locations for the movie are very refreshing and a true bonus — and I believe they were cunningly concealed in the trailer so as not to frighten the horses; or rather the American teenagers. 

Of course, there is the ludicrous fact that the plot concerns Interpol agents running around everywhere with guns and flak vests, like a kind of European FBI. 

As I understand it, Interpol doesn't even have any agents and is just a clearinghouse for information between different national police forces. 

And I’m pretty damned sure they don’t have a giant headquarters in Manchester or ditto detention centre in Amsterdam. 

But at least this is a movie which acknowledges that Manchester and Amsterdam — and the Hague and Coventry — exist. 

And Samuel L. Jackson’s foul mouthed, violent love affair with Selma Hayek is actually rather touching. 

Which brings us to the cast, which is surprisingly top drawer. Besides Hayek in a supporting role we also have Gary Oldman as the big bad bad guy. 
Oldman's performance, and indeed O'Connor's writing for his character, elevate a cardboard villain to something rather more vivid. 

If you want some undemanding and bloodily violent summer entertainment, this will fit the bill while actually being a cut above the usual action movie fare.

(Image credits: A plethora of posters at Imp Awards.)

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