Dog’s Movie House: “Hitman’s Bodyguard” Mild Fun, “Logan Lucky” A Near Comedic Masterpiece!
Howdy Folks! It’s The Kendog!
With summer winding down, two comedies are competing for the top of a decidedly dour box office. Like so many things entertainment related, marketing often outdoes quality when it comes to getting butts in seats at the movie theaters. The first of these is “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” which seems like a no-brainer. Pairing Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds in an action comedy seems like surefire box office gold, but unfortunately a limp script keeps “Bodyguard” from achieving true greatness. Fortunately we have Steven Soderbergh, returning from a five-year mini retirement to give us “Logan Lucky” a delightful heist film with a decidedly southern flavor.
But first we’ll delve into “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” which features Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a Triple-A rated bodyguard whose rating goes into the dumps after losing a high profile target to an assassin’s bullet. Forced to take any job just to make ends meet, he ends up working for his Interpol ex-girlfriend (Elodie Yung) who wants him to get an important witness to the Hague to testify against a high profile dictator accused of war crimes in Europe (Gary Oldman). Trouble is, the client is world renowned hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) who just so happens to be Bryce’s nemesis. Kincaid has offered to testify in exchange for the release of his spitfire of a wife (Salma Hayek) from prison. Of course Interpol is full of moles and informers and Oldman’s Dukhovich is, of course, not going to let Kincaid get to the Hague without trying to kill him with his army of trained thugs.
So a simple chase picture with two of the sharpest actors on the planet should be pretty easy to pull off, right? Unfortunately the script by Tom O’Connor isn’t witty enough to support the talents of the two leads. There are some good moments of levity, but you can tell they’re provided by some improv by the Jackson and Reynolds, who plays straitlaced a little too well. The script seems to be preoccupied with the shared past of Bryce and Kincaid and what it means to live with the consequences of your actions. Unfortunately the script doesn’t delve enough into these issues to make the characters any more interesting. The story would have been wise to drop the drama in favor of wittier banter between Jackson and Reynolds.
“Bodyguard” is a little more successful when it comes to the action. Director Patrick Hughes (“Expendables 3) shoots some entertaining fight and chase scenes, most of which take place in the picturesque locale of Amsterdam. It’s not groundbreaking or anything, but the action definitely keeps your attention and does so far more efficiently than the comedy. Overall, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is a passable matinee time waster, but a tad disappointing considering the talent in front of the camera. 3 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!
The movie to see of the two new releases is definitely “Logan Lucky” the new film from director Steven Soderbergh (“Oceans 11”). The story centers on Jimmy Lucky (Channing Tatum) a high school football legend whose career was cut short by a catastrophic injury. After being fired from a construction job at Charlotte Motor Speedway and running short on funds, Jimmy is at the end of his rope. He decides to rob the Speedway with the help of his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and his younger sister Mellie (Riley Keough) To successfully complete this heist, the Logan siblings need the help of renowned hold up artist Joe Bang (an excellent Daniel Craig). Trouble is, Bang is in prison, so the heist becomes a two-pronged affair: get Joe out of prison in time to complete the heist and get him back in time so he doesn’t get caught.
And that’s all I’m going to tell you. To watch the trailers you’d think this is simply a redneck “Oceans 11” and that’s partially true. Soderbergh is terrific and turning character expectations on their collective heads. True the Logan boys speak with pronounced hillbilly accents, but they are certainly a lot smarter than the average bear and the details of the heist are wonderful to behold. Let’s not forget Craig’s Joe Bang, who’s folksy charm hides a razor sharp intellect that reveals itself at the most surprising of times. The film also manages to be quiet moving as the primary subplot involves Jimmy trying to care for his precocious daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie).
The performances are uniformly outstanding (it also helps that the script by Rebecca Blunt is terrific) with Tatum providing a deep emotional anchor amidst the chaos and comedy. Driver is equally good as conspiracy-obsessed Clyde, a war veteran who may be the world’s most depressing bartender. Driver’s delivery has this slow, molasses drawl that elicits chuckles every time he speaks. Keough is very good as the sharp as a tack Mellie and Craig steals the whole damn show as Joe Bang, making you completely forget he’s James Bond. Soderbergh also gets good supporting work from the likes of Katie Holmes, Seth McFarlane, and Sebastian Stan. Overall “Logan Lucky” is a terrific, slick piece of entertainment that serves as a reminder that Soderbergh is one of the best in the game. See this one in theaters folks, you won’t be disappointed. 4 1/2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!