Oh it’s just a bit of summer fun, Jason, lighten up. I know, I know. The banter between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson is good, like Deadpool and Jules from Pulp Fiction riding around in a car, discussing words like “plethora” and “semantics”. Meanwhile, Salma Hayek is in a Dutch prison, swearing like a you’ve never heard her before, in Spanish and English.
But the non-stop violence, that ceases to amuse. I mean, it’s really violent and relentlessly so, which I found soul-crushing and deadening, especially the light humour with which it’s all treated. I’ve seen it described as “cartoonish”, by which they mean like Tom and Jerry I suppose? Yet it isn’t that ridiculous, even when Reynolds has a showdown with a heavy in a hardware store. Axes, hammers, nail guns, chains – they hurt, and to pretend otherwise in a a live action movie is stupid, not silly.
Reynolds plays a bodyguard, down on his luck after a big client was assassinated on his watch; Samuel is a hitman, one released from jail (in Manchester, for some reason) to testify in the Hague at the trial of a Belarussian warlord played by Gary Oldman, giving it the full Ryusshyun yaccyent.
When Sam is hijacked en route, he goes on the run from Interpol and Ryan is hired to escort him, off grid. Cue allegedly hilarious adventures blowing up the streets of Coventry, the cornfields of Berkshire and a bus full of singing Italian nuns helping them to the Amsterdam ferry.
The basic beats go: orgy of violence, a close getaway, banter in the car accompanied by ironic 80s power ballad, set up the next bloodbath or urban chase sequence.
I wish I could just enjoy it for the dumb entertainment it’s pretending to be, or for the choreography of the boat and bike chase through Amsterdam, but the non-stop casualness of the killing is troubling. You feel a numbness set in – it’s the same insouciant attitude toward the film that all its characters seem to have for each other and for life.