In 1988’s Midnight Run, the seemingly random pairing of Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin surprisingly resulted in one of the more memorable action-comedies of the decade (at the time most folks didn’t even realize De Niro could do comedy). In that movie, De Niro played a tough-guy bounty hunter chasing down accountant Grodin who was on the run from both the FBI and the mob. The actors’ chemistry turned out to be unexpectedly magical, so much so that De Niro occasionally calls out for a sequel that would reuinite him with Grodin.
The upcoming The Hitman’s Bodyguard has a similar premise to Midnight Run: Hitman Samuel L. Jackson is set to testify at the International Court of Justice, and Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard who has to help him get there in one piece as various people try to knock him off.
In the new red-band trailer, Reynolds and Jackson take turns dropping f-bombs while literal bombs go off all around them. We’re introduced to Reynolds’ character, a very put-together guy who could have stepped out of a James Bond movie. It quickly becomes apparent that guarding Jackson is going to test Reynolds not only physically but psychologically. Somewhat hilariously, the song ‘I Will Always Love You’ plays throughout the trailer, conjuring memories of the Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner vehicle The Bodyguard (we’re still waiting for that remake).
In one particularly insane moment, Jackson tries jumping off a building into a trash dumpster to evade some bad guys, and turns into a human pinball on the way down. The action looks totally over-the-top and physics-defying, which is probably to be expected from director Patrick Hughes, whose last movie was the Expendables 3.
Jackson, of course, is no stranger to firing off profane one-liners — he’s practically built his career on being a master of the expletive — and after Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds is beginning to develop his own reputation as a guy who knows his way around a curse-word. The character dynamic screams retro buddy-comedy and the action also seems old-school, not balletic and choreographed a la John Wick (a series Jackson has expressed interest in joining).
Throwback movies that evoke ’80s-style buddy-comedy have been tried a few times in recent years but have not necessarily succeeded. Last year for instance, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling teamed up for the retro action flick The Nice Guys, and that was considered a disappointment at the box office. This year’s CHiPs reached back to ’70s TV for its own buddy-comedy premise, was ripped by the original stars and failed to impress at the multiplex. We’ll see if Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson can bring some juice back to the old formulas when they do their own Midnight Run/Lethal Weapon routine in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, releasing in August.