In the latest ripoff of the Midnight Run concept, in which a mismatched pair runs the gauntlet as one of them must deliver the other on a dangerous mission while the clock is ticking, The Hitman’s Bodyguard fortunately has casting that at least justifies the two hours of your life you will spend watching this frenetic thing.

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Although the premise is stale, it fortunately has Ryan Reynolds as a down-on-his-luck protection specialist teamed with Samuel L. Jackson as a prisoner needed to testify against a Belarusian dictator (played without subtlety by Gary Oldman) who will get off if Jackson doesn’t show up at the appointed time from Manchester to the Hague. As I say in my video review (click the link above to watch), never mind the details or any ounce of credibility, this movie exists for this star pairing as they must endure a series of chases, uber-violent close encounters and general mayhem along the way.

Although I would classify this as an “action comedy,” the level of visceral violence is a off-putting at points, even if the movie and Tom O’Connor’s uneven scripting frequently is saved by the amusing banter spewed out by the leads. This is pure summer escapism with two stars who absolutely know how to deliver what is expected from this genre, and if they are no Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin (as in the case of 1988’s much imitated Midnight Run), they still fit the bill nicely for fans. Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, who used to be at the top of his game until a Japanese charge of his was killed on his watch. His life and career spiral downward until two years later, when an ex-girlfriend and Interpol agent (Elodie Yung) is desperate and decides Michael is the one who might be able to pull off a tough assignment to get prisoner Darius Kincaid (Jackson) from England to the Hague in time to testify. He is willing to do this because only if his incarcerated wife (Salma Hayek) is promised freedom if the deed is accomplished.

Director Patrick Hughes, whose most recent credit was The Expendables 3, basically gets out of the way and lets his cast do the dirty work, though clearly he also knows how to let his stunt team shine. We have seen this kind of formula action a million times before, and I have to admit after seeing The Hitman’s Bodyguard sneaked by Lionsgate at its Cinemacon presentation in  March, I haven’t even thought about it until it came time to do this review. But as a time killer, you could do worse thanks to Reynolds and Jackson and even Hayek, who made me laugh and has a natural affinity for comedy. As for Oldman, he will go from this “lightest hour” to playing Winston Churchill this fall in The Darkest Hour, which I presume will require more acting skills than exhibited in this over-the-top outing. Nevertheless if you are a fan of these actors, especially the two with their names above the title, I would say “go.” They definitely have a way with words and insults that makes the time fly by.

Producers are David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson and Les Weldon among a virtual army of 25 others with the word “producer” somewhere in their credit. Lionsgate unleashes it all today.

Do you plan to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard? Let us know what you think.