The buddy-action movie genre has become a tried and true Hollywood premise. Whether it's Lethal Weapon or Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (or maybe something that doesn't even involve Shane Black), the formula has worked for decades. That said, there's always room for tweaks as far as any movie is concerned. On that note, I recently sat down with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson to ask them how The Hitman's Bodyguard sets itself apart from a typical buddy-action flick, and Reynolds opened up the conversation by explaining that it's a smart deconstruction of the genre, saying:
I think it definitely deconstructs some of the tropes and has fun with it and sort of winks at it and sort of leans into some of them in funny ways. So that was part of the fun of watching it come together on-set.
We live in an era in which self-awareness has become a hot commodity. It doesn't matter what genre you're dealing with; the ability to look at conventions and ideas of a traditional action movie (such as nail guns being effective weapons) and subvert them often proves helpful. Jordan Peele's Get Out did it for the horror genre, and even Ryan Reynolds' own work on Deadpool did it for superhero movies last year. The trick is simply knowing which clichés to lean into and which ones to deviate from when the rubber hits the road.
However, Samuel L. Jackson seemed to have a more focused reason on his mind. Building off of what Reynolds said, Jackson highlighted the fact that The Hitman's Bodyguard leans far more heavily on romance than a standard buddy movie, saying:
I think the connective tissue of relationships makes it very different because it actually steps on something personal in terms of, 'you're a heartless cold-blooded killer' but then you realize 'oh my god, dude, you have a relationship? A real one?' Which is unlike any hitman that you see movies. It's always 'no connections, you've gotta be able to break away and leave at any time,' but this guy's got a woman that he loves that he goes home to and talks to.
He has a point. Although romance is something that pops up in buddy movies from time to time, the central relationship of any given buddy story tends to be the one shared between the two (often male) protagonists. By contrast, The Hitman's Bodyguard plays with that trope by expanding the lives of its two heroes and focusing on the strained relationships and estranged lovers in their respective worlds. In the grand scheme of buddy movies, that is not something that we see very often (if ever).
Check out a clip from my interview with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson below to hear everything they had to say about their work on The Hitman's Bodyguard, as well as the buddy-action genre as a whole.