Movie Review – Justice League

DC takes two steps forward and one step back on its bumper team-up tentpole, Justice League.

⭐ ⭐  ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

After fours years, just as many films and a hype train large enough to tow a small planet, DC and Warner Brothers hastily arrive at their Avengers moment in Justice League, a crossover event that sees established superheroes like Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman team up with fresh faces such as The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

Their mission is to stop Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an ancient interdimensional demon from uniting three ‘mother boxes’, shiny Rubix Cubes with the power to destroy all life on Earth when joined as one.

Having undergone a troubled production, the expectation going in is that Justice League would be a mess, visually, tonally and narratively. Unfortunately, those fears appear to have been well-founded for the most part; Snyder’s third swing of the bat isn’t a miss on the scale of 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it’s hardly the home run many fans were hoping for either.

Narratively, cowriters Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon (the latter of whom also directed a few reshoots after Snyder departed following a family tragedy) cobble together a passable plot that is markedly more straightforward than its bloated predecessor.

This streamlining is a good thing; rather than getting bogged down by mythology, Justice League (with Whedon offering some of his trademark quips) affords its central five heroes time to interact. Batman and Wonder Woman don’t see eye to eye; Cyborg isn’t a fan of Flash’s silliness. It endears us to their cause, making the abysmal CGI throwdown in the third act at least tolerable.

Visually, Justice League isn’t great. The VFX lacks polish and an overreliance on green screen is abundantly clear once the heroes jet off to face their ultimate foe in the final act. The reshoots and last minute tinkering hasn’t done much to help in this department.

The cast is a mixed bag as well; Affleck swings between suave and narcoleptic; Gadot is equal parts a radiant beam of sunlight and a thrilling whirlwind of ferocity; Miller is a jittery and sarcastic millennial who can’t sit still; Fisher is stoic and only afforded a hint of depth; and Momoa’s Aquaman is an insufferable X Games bro with milky white contacts and a penchant for surf lingo – it comes as a surprise that he doesn’t throw a single shaka.

Even the score is a hodgepodge of intersecting leitmotifs, as Danny Elfman throws everything but the kitchen sink into the mix; Hans Zimmer’s uplifting Man of Steel theme and Junkie XL’s thunderous Wonder Woman cues overlap with John Williams’ original Superman theme and Elfman’s own 1989 Batman score. The result is clunky and disjointed – a summation that extends to most of Justice League, to be brutally honest.

And so, we arrive at the end. Things are more hopeful, the status quo has shifted once again and better things to come are teased. But it does beg the question, how long can audiences go before the crippling mediocrity (save for Wonder Woman) lastingly cripples DC’s efforts to ape Marvel? Justice League sees the former lean into the latter’s formula heavily, and it signals a shift in the right direction, albeit a slow one. Once again I find myself whispering under the breath – “maybe the next one will be better…”

Justice League is available in Australian cinemas from November 16.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 2017.

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Movie Review – Murder on the Orient Express

Hollywood once again recycles that which need not be recycled, in Kenneth Branagh’s take on Murder on the Orient Express.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Zachary Cruz-Tan

I see no other way to approach a review of a movie like this than to compare it to what’s come before. Its history is too deep. Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express has been adapted to radio; into a 1974 feature by Sidney Lumet starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot; a 2001 TV movie with Alfred Molina in the role; and of course as an episode of the distinguished ITV Poirot series. It has even been remade in Japan. Now comes another version, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, and I find myself simply incapable of finding the right words to recommend it.

This is an adaptation that works on the fundamental level, which means it has a sound plot, supreme technical prowess and performances that befit its ludicrously high-profile cast. It is a movie that can be seen and appreciated in about equal measure without being spectacular. Whether it holds up as a faithful Christie adaptation I will leave to her loyal fans and scholars to determine; as a gripping murder mystery, it is neither gripping nor very mysterious.

To discuss the plot would be to grind against the very grain of Christie. Her stories are designed to unfold chronologically, so that we pick up hints and clues and slowly piece together the unfathomable puzzle along with her great detectives. The less we know going in the better. Murder on the Orient Express remains her most famous probably because of its claustrophobic setting (the length of a snowbound train), its immense cast of characters and the degree to which misdirection is employed to keep us guessing.

But all these are assets of the original story, not of this film. Branagh is perhaps a finer actor than he is a director, and he puts on a brave face as Poirot, but his film lacks in ingenuity and freshness. I can’t think of a single reason to see his version and not the Lumet classic, which had Finney scuttling down the corridors of the train like a frenzied crab. Branagh’s Poirot is unusually calm and chipper, which might have been a fun new take on the part if he had buckled down and took it to the edge. Poirot, like Sherlock Holmes, is a character of extremes. A detective of unusual intelligence who is easier to admire than befriend. To play him as anything less than a feverish snob is to miss the point.

Around him is assembled a cast of veritable class, which includes but is not limited to Michelle Pfeiffer as an uppity American socialite; Willem Dafoe as an Austrian professor; Daisy Ridley as Miss Mary Debenham; Leslie Odom Jr as the handy doctor; Penélope Cruz as a faithful servant of the Lord; Judi Dench as the Princess Dragomiroff; Johnny Depp as the despicable businessman Ratchett; and Josh Gad and Derek Jacobi as his staff. Any more and I suspect the train would’ve toppled off the ridge.

Pity, then, that such great talent should go unchecked by a story as rich as this. Everyone plays their parts as if they know the end before the beginning. There is no thrill, no embracing the unexpected. It’s all just cogs turning in rhythm to the screenplay, which can be fatal for a mystery like this.

So I leave you rather nonplussed, unable to praise Orient Express enough to make you go see it, unable to exploit its weaknesses enough to turn you away. I don’t prefer it to some of the earlier iterations, but I suspect if you’ve never heard of Poirot and his impossible moustache, or perhaps even Christie, this movie might do the trick. But just barely.

Murder on the Orient Express is available in Australian cinemas from November 9.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox 2017

Movie Review – A Bad Moms Christmas

Christmas will soon be upon us and along with it a new batch of seasonal films for the whole family – or sometimes just for the adults. A Bad Moms Christmas offers a variety of crudity and vile humor that aims to be as gross as it does shocking. If only any of it was remotely funny.


Josip Knezevic

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn reprise their roles from the first Bad Moms (yes I can’t believe they made a sequel as well), but this time they’re met with their equally bad counterparts – their own mums. It seems like this will be the trend for this year’s Christmas movies, with the upcoming Daddy’s Home 2 set to do much of the same thing, just with the opposite sex.

A Bad Moms Christmas seems to take the most basic form of monkey humour but branches it out to a platform that we haven’t seen before; motherhood. We don’t expect mums to be seen in such a light and that’s what’s meant to make it funny. It was the same reason Bad Santa was so popular but making something original doesn’t necessarily make it automatically hilarious. A bad joke is a bad joke, no matter how you polish it, and this is ultimately where the Bad Moms franchise is lacking.

Dialogue about penises or vaginal waxing feel only thrown in as an attempt to gather up laughs from shock value. Reactions of “oh my god I can’t believe a mum just said that, she’s not supposed to say that hahaha” are heavily relied upon throughout, but this doesn’t make the jokes genuinely hilarious. Soon enough, this whole routine becomes just tiresome. When humour that isn’t based off vulgarity does arrive, they’re mostly predictable from moments ahead of time or are simply yet another eye roller. This coming from a man who loves dad jokes. But maybe not just of the bad mum’s kind.

Aside from the humour, the overall plot follows a formulaic affair that, whilst touching on some heartfelt moments, isn’t anything special enough to be considered good. Not only have you seen the same moments in other Christmas films but they’re executed so much better elsewhere. And I’m not just talking about the classic Christmas flicks of Home Alone and The Santa Clause; Bad Santa manages to become a better antihero to enjoy on-screen. This is because his character is as believable as he is heartbroken and funny. He’s a nice balance between the bad that we can laugh at and the good that we ultimately sympathise with.

None of these aspects are found in A Bad Moms Christmas. What we are left with is another poor excuse for a chick flick that represents another missed opportunity for a genre that continues to add cheesy Christmas movie after cheesy Christmas movie. In a time where focus on women empowerment is at the forefront of so many films this year, A Bad Moms Christmas is a failure for many of those powerful leading examples and for women in general. Mums do amazing things for us and unfortunately, in this case, they deserve better.

A Bad Moms Christmas is available in Australian cinemas from November 2.

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 2017

Movie Review – Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is by no means the finest Marvel movie, but it does a fine job of keeping up with the pack.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 
Zachary Cruz-Tan

If there is one thing true about the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s that Thor is about as interesting a movie hero as the dried up skin flaking on my heel. It’s the failing of any mythological figure – they are bound by the limitations of their respective traits. Medusa cannot do anything other than turn infidels to stone. Ares knows only how to wage war. No matter how many family squabbles you throw at him, Thor can still only command lightning. So what do you do? Run with it and make it as much fun as possible, I guess.

Thor: Ragnarok is a delightful step up from the first two movies because it proves Marvel is capable of running self-diagnostics. Thor and Thor: The Dark World were horrendous. You don’t take a boring mythical juggernaut and dump him in New Mexico. That’s like trying to treat depression with Schindler’s List. As a result, Ragnarok is damage control. Its director, Taika Waititi, whose What We Do in the Shadows had me guffawing like a buffoon, is the emergency physician. His remedy is simple: Thor is a hulking lug without brains or a character to develop, so I shall construct around him a world that is infinitely more exciting. And it is.

This is the kind of movie that knows precisely what it is and what it isn’t, what it can and cannot do. For example, it can deliver amazing action set pieces and some truly beautiful imagery, but cannot be as deep or insightful as Batman Begins or Captain America: Civil War. Waititi’s approach is fundamentally helpful. He doesn’t try to beef up the lousy characters or outdo more successful superhero films but simply lets the chemistry of his cast flow with the outrageous dialogue.

Thor is once again played by Chris Hemsworth. This time, his home of Asgard is under threat of destruction by Hela (Cate Blanchett), another mythic figure bound to her eternal moniker of “goddess of death”, which is unfortunate because no matter how hard she may try, she cannot play anyone else but the villain. Thor, meanwhile, is stranded on a faraway garbage planet, ruled by the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum in Goldblum overdrive), who enjoys pitting superheroes against each other as some kind of intergalactic blood sport. So you can imagine Thor’s consternation and beastly grunting when the Grandmaster forbids him from saving his home.

Let’s face it, this isn’t a compelling plot, least of all because Asgard as a fantastical ethereal paradise looks more like the blown up internal mechanisms of a wristwatch. Hela’s dialogue is all exposition and snark and very little intelligence. The scenes on the garbage planet are colourful and alive, but after you’ve seen one fight-to-the-death arena presided over by a psychotic dictator, you’ve seen them all, especially if the movie’s trailers have already given away all the best bits.

So the plot is merely serviceable. We know the characters are thin soup. And yet I had a really good time with this. I appreciate an action movie that can make me laugh earnestly, that doesn’t betray the idiosyncrasies of its quirky director, that adopts an approach and sticks with it for better or worse. I can’t recall a single memorable quote (except perhaps “the devil’s anus”) but I remember laughing a lot, being impressed by the quality of the entire production, and thanking the Norse gods for finally giving Darcy the day off.

Thor: Ragnarok is available in Australian cinemas from October 26 

Image courtesy of Marvel Studios 2017

Movie Review – The Mountain Between Us

An admirable attempt at an adventure film falls short with a misplaced focus on a weak romantic subplot.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahil

When Ben (Idris Elba) and Alex’s (Kate Winslet) small charter plane suddenly crashes, the pair must battle the snowy wilderness to find their way home. While making the treacherous journey, they begin to develop affections for each other, as they come to realise they may never make it home…

Winslet and Elba may be in fine form here, but this adaptation of Charles Martin’s romantic adventure novel squanders its potential by not making full use of their acting calibre. What could have been an incredibly uplifting story of survival, instead only breeds disappointment and exasperation. Director Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) pushes the bounds of what you’re willing to accept, with some of the more dramatic moments entering unconvincing territory.

Meanwhile, the romantic chemistry between Winslet and Elba is stale and contrived. Winslet is supposed to be a photographer who frequents war zones, yet her reaction to their crisis is erratic and irrational; not what you’d expect from someone who is regularly surrounded by intense situations. Elba balances her out by remaining cool and collected, but in doing so he almost becomes too emotionally disconnected. Beau Bridges’ appearance is quite memorable, although short-lived, but the best performance comes from the dog. Aptly named Dog, he playfully leaps through the snow and explores nooks and crannies, regularly providing cheerful relief.

Thankfully, Abu-Assad at least gets the visuals right, with cinematographer Mandy Walker pulling out all the stops. Filmed on location in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia, Walker makes full use of the landscape; dramatic sweeping shots highlight the volatile nature of the location, while Walker’s gentle touch simultaneously magnifies the beauty of the mountains. She’s developed a bit of a trademark for breathing life into natural scenery through films such as Australia, Tracks and Red Riding Hood.

Overall, the film is passable as a survival story, but the romantic elements don’t hold up, and lead to corny moments that jar with the rest of the experience, despite the best efforts of all involved.

The Mountain Between Us is available in Australian cinemas from October 12

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Movie Review – Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Director Matthew Vaughn returns with another action packed film, but can America and Britain really put aside their egos and come together to save the world from devastation?

⭐ ⭐ ½
Elle Cahill

When the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed, the two remaining Kingsman, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong), travel to their brother spy organisation in the US. The two elite secret organisations must now band together to defeat a common enemy who is holding the world hostage.

Director Matthew Vaughn delivers another adrenaline-filled adventure, following the success Kingsman: The Secret Service, and his early works, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. The humour remains as crude as ever, and at times you wonder if it’s he’s trying to create some Guinness World Record for the amount of times the word ‘fuck’ is said in a film, but his fight scenes are some of the best in the comic book genre. Well-choreographed and edited to high-tempo music, these scenes get your heart racing, and you’re more than willing to suspend your disbelief to enjoy the spectacle.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is packed with A-list actors, including Colin Firth and Taron Egerton who return to reprise their respective roles. Firth’s Harry “Galahad” Hart lacks the grit and unexpected crudeness of the first film, purely because his character is criminally underutilised in order to make way for a range of newcomers.

Julianne Moore gives a disturbing performance as the seemingly sweet, yet power-hungry villain Poppy, who has no issue with threatening billions of lives to receive recognition for operating the biggest (unknown) drug cartel in the world. Halle Berry plays the US secret service’s version of Merlin, continually saving the agent’s lives with her nanobot technology, yet finds herself constantly undermined by her US co-workers, and Channing Tatum plays hotshot US spy Tequila. While none of them put in award-winning performances, they all seem to be having a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, the film lacked stability for me. Compared to the first Kingsman,which was slick and filled with dry British humour, this one just has far too much going on. Constant flashbacks are needed to help set up the story, plus there’s the introduction of a whole new spy organisation filled with a number of different characters. Add in the clash between American and British humour, and it all ends up a little bit muddled.

While humorous, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is nowhere near as funny as its predecessor. It relies heavily on a large amount of assumed knowledge from The Secret Service, so good luck if you haven’t seen the first film! The ultimate downfall of this film is in taking the story to the US; its British quirks are completely lost, and the tone shifts into typical, American territory.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is available in Australian cinemas from September 21 

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

 

Movie Review – The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The Lego franchise has previously won audiences and critics alike with The Lego Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, but could The LEGO Ninjago Movie be the end of its successful run?


Elle Cahill

When the bustling Ninjago City falls into the hands of evil warlord Garmadon, a team of five ninja warriors must go on a journey to discover the ultimate secret weapon to save the city. With the guidance of Master Wu, the five ninjas have to come together to release the power of Spinjitzu and save Ninjago City from devastation.

Following the success of its predecessors, I had high hopes for The LEGO Ninjago Movie… unfortunately what I saw was a film that fell flat on its face. You could argue that I’m not its target audience, but the film just isn’t funny – even for children. The humour is very American and a lot of it is lost on international audiences who don’t have the context necessary for the joke to carry. Most of the jokes rushed to the punchline; before you even realised there was a joke in play, it was over… and the few that did manage to land were very weak, making you feel obligated to chuckle.

There is no doubt that the animation is amazing and its incredible to think how far animation has come in the last ten years, but there’s nothing new here to what we’ve already seen in the other two LEGO movies. There’s also a serious lack of new material surrounding the fact that the main characters are operating in a Lego Universe, which was utilised very well in the first film.

Jackie Chan voices Master Wu, a sort of Mr Miyagi from Karate Kid type, and does the best he can with the material he has been given. Meanwhile, Justin Theroux voices the evil warlord Garmadon, and gives the character as much range as possible, but disappointingly, the character’s arc is very small, despite him having the most to learn given his damaged relationship with one of the ninjas.

In short, the film is a huge disappointment, and a bit of a stain on what was turning out to be a good run for the LEGO franchise. Some parts of the film are sensory overkill, and make you feel like you’re staring directly into a strobe light, while other parts need an audience cue to let you know when you’re supposed to laugh. I would advise parents to give this film a miss this school holidays, or prepare for the inevitable disappointment.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie is available in Australian films from September 21

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films 

Movie Review – American Assassin

With American Assassin, Michael Cuesta explores nuclear war in the most outdated fashion possible.


Zachary Cruz-Tan 

There’s something to admire about Michael Cuesta’s American Assassin, albeit somewhat ironically. This is a movie out of time, a relic of Hollywood’s past shuffled forward to the present without planning or coordination. It’s a story a faithful student of Steven Seagal might’ve wanted two decades ago, but with Steven Seagal instead of Michael Keaton. It feels so antiquated one might be amazed to see it made at all, and yet here it is, proud as a featherless peacock.

It begins decently enough, with a thunderous terrorist attack on an idyllic beach. Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) has just proposed to his fiancée, then she is gruesomely gunned down. Bent on revenge, Mitch takes the only logical step: murder the leader of the terrorist cell himself by taking up martial arts classes and feigning loyalty to the radical caliphate. Uh huh…

His moves are observed by Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan), deputy director of a covert organisation of assassins known as Orion. She hacks his webcam, spies on his chats and paces around one of those secure agency rooms that looks like computer screens have taken over the world with pie charts and graphs. Irene, too, takes the only logical step: Recruit Mitch for her program. Why? Because “I’ve tested them all and he can do things no one else can”. Uh huh. Does anyone else see the crime in using a poor kid’s grief and revenge as weapons for the US government?

This, I suppose, is only the premise, and I think it’s more than what you need to know. The rest involves warring nations, double-crosses and nuclear bombs, which made me think of North Korea, and that, maybe, the plot might have some contemporary relevance. But nothing about Cuesta’s execution supports this notion. His movie is so devoid of energy and so stagnant that even the action sequences seem to unfold in reverse. There is not a word of dialogue with the impetus to develop character. Every line services the plot and nothing else. This is the kind of movie that would work as an academic essay.

There are gunfights and car chases, torture scenes and training montages, fist-fights and a fleet of American warships. And also an explosive crescendo that boasts some of the shoddiest CGI work of recent times. Somewhere in all this is Keaton, who plays a former Navy SEAL like it’s a career-defining audition. He goes balls-to-the-wall and, in a pivotal scene, completely smashes up against it. Keaton’s best when he’s gloomy and brooding, like Bruce Wayne, not when he’s the 21st Century version of R. Lee Ermey.

I think I can appreciate what this film is trying to accomplish, but in an era where the Mission: Impossible and James Bond movies continue to employ new tricks to remain relevant, American Assassin is like that old clown who still thinks balloon animals are what kids want. This is a film that belongs in the ‘90s, and even then it wouldn’t have been verygood at all.

American Assassin is available in Australian cinemas from September 14 

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films

Movie Review – American Made

The Mummy may have been a misstep, but Tom Cruise proves he’s still Top Gun – quite literally – since he’s back in the pilot’s seat.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Corey Hogan

Overworked, exhausted and bored with his life-consuming career as a commercial airline pilot, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) is one day invited by CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) to become a courier for the government, flying reconnaissance missions over South America. He accepts, and begins earning a hefty pay check, but sees the opportunity to double his earnings when the Medellin Cartel asks him to smuggle cocaine on his way back into the US.

Borrowing heavily from the Martin Scorsese book on How to Make a Crime Epic, American Made is essentially everything that last year’s War Dogs wanted to be. Director Doug Liman is treading new territory, a far cry away from the action thrillers (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) he’s well known for, but his venture into pulpy true crime story emerges as the first worthy successor to The Wolf of Wall Street, and is one of the most purely entertaining films of the year so far.

For his good man seduced by greed, Liman recruits the star of his most recent film Edge of Tomorrow, and Cruise fits the role like a glove. Atoning for the sins of The Mummy, Cruise is firmly back on track with a very juicy role that shows us for the first time in years that he’s capable of much more than the adrenaline-fuelled man of action.

Barry Seal does not feel like a huge stretch or acting challenge for Cruise, but that’s because the character so perfectly fits his natural charisma, and reminds us that he can be funny. Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that he’s still one of the most reliable and versatile actors currently working.

Despite its troubled production (a blacklisted script, delays and reshoots, stuntmen dying in a plane crash), it’s a rush to know that what’s happening on screen is happening for real. Liman has recounted how on edge he was while filming Cruise from a helicopter next to him as he left the cockpit and began performing supply drops himself with no one else piloting. The “true story” label, as always, needs to be taken with a big grain of salt, but who cares when the tale is this much fun?

American Made is available in Australian cinemas from August 24

Image (c) Universal Pictures 2017

Movie Review – The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is good for a laugh but little else.

⭐ ⭐ ½
Rhys Graeme-Drury

Who doesn’t love a good buddy comedy? The Nice Guys, Bad Boys, 21 Jump Street – the list goes on. Not joining those esteemed ranks, however, is Patrick Hughes’ new film The Hitman’s Bodyguard; a clichéd action-comedy that coasts by on the charisma of its two leads, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson.

Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard tasked by his Interpol agent ex-girlfriend Amelia (Elodie Yung) with protecting Darius Kincaid (Jackson), a hitman who needs to be escorted safely to Holland to act as a witness in the trial of a Soviet warlord named Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). Reams of faceless bad dudes are trying to stop them, hijinks ensue – you get the picture.

The trifecta of talent fronting the film – Reynolds, Jackson and Oldman – lend significant weight to what is a fairly humdrum plot, even if they’re all cast as versions of their own public persona or characters they’ve played in the past. Reynolds is hapless, sarcastic and adorable; Jackson is foul-mouthed and effortlessly cool; and Oldman is a deranged European terrorist with a facial disfigurement. None of these characters are a stretch for the three, which certainly affords the impression that everyone is simply here to phone it in and cash the cheque – it makes you wonder if Jackson works on commission for every time he drops the F-bomb. If so, he milked it for all it was worth.

Where The Hitman’s Bodyguard flounders is in its scattershot and wildly wayward approach to a little thing called tone. What starts out as a straightforward buddy cop flick soon finds itself getting tangled up in a lot of other narrative cul-de-sacs that sap the energy from the freewheeling vibe; one scene sees Reynolds tortured for information via electrocution, right after which the film launches into a flashback soundtracked by Foreigner, a car chase to Spiderbait and a bareknuckle fist fight to Chuck Berry. Like, pick a lane and stick to it.

The geopolitics, harsh realism and mass graves simply doesn’t mesh with some of the goofier aspects of the film, like singing nuns, farting convicts and meet-cutes to Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. Hughes’ film is firing on cylinders when it’s in Lethal Weapon territory and concerned with the basics; the banter is top-notch and gives Reynolds and Jackson plenty of room to showcase their bottomless wit, even if the narrative spins its wheels and is threadbare at the best of times – at nearly two-hours, Hughes’ film most definitely outstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

That’s basically the gist of The Hitman’s Bodyguard; it’s a fun premise that has been stretched into a two-hour movie and milked dry. At a tight 90-minutes, the film would have felt more focused, but in its current form it’s a strangely disorganised, flabby action-comedy that relies solely on the unquenchable charisma of its two leads.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is available in Australian cinemas from August 31

Image courtesy of Roadshow Films