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Hitman's Bodyguard, The (4K Blu-ray) (2017)
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Details At A Glance
Audio Commentary-with director Patrick Hughes
Deleted Scenes-and Extended Scenes
Additional Footage-Alternate Scenes
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Hitman's Bodyguard: A Love Story
Featurette-Hitman vs. Bodyguard
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Big Action in a Big World
Year Of Production
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Samuel L. Jackson
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
††† The Hitmanís Bodyguard capably delivers on its promise to provide a slick, fun action-comedy featuring two talented performers doing what they do best - nothing more, nothing less. It might not be especially great from a discerning critical standpoint, but the laughs hit hard for the most part and the action scenes are genuinely thrilling, which has to count for something. Produced for a rather modest $30 million, itís competently-constructed and moves at an agreeable pace, but donít expect much in the way of creativity or originality. Nevertheless, for those of you who enjoy a good old-fashioned, old-school actioner, The Hitmanís Bodyguard should scratch that itch.
††† Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) was the top bodyguard in his industry for a brief moment in time, but the assassination of a high-profile client instantly dethrones him, and, in the aftermath, he also loses his girlfriend, an Interpol agent named Amelia (Elodie Young). With his reputation in tatters, Michael is left accepting lousy jobs as he endeavours to build himself back up. Meanwhile, Amelia finds herself in a grim situation when she becomes stuck with notorious assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), who is due to testify at the International Criminal Court in The Hague against ruthless Russian leader Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). With a string of enforcers and corrupt law enforcement officials seeking to kill Darius, Amelia tasks Michael with safely transporting the hitman across the Netherlands, and ensure that he gets to court on time. Despite deep-seated feelings of hostility towards each other based on previous encounters, Darius and Michael are forced to put aside their differences to complete the mission as a horde of hired guns aggressively come after them.
††† Written by Tom OíConnor, The Hitmanís Bodyguard is a standard-order mishmash of the likes of 48 Hrs. and Midnight Run, with a dash of Rush Hour for good measure. There is lots of fun to be had as Michael tries his hardest to be a proper bodyguard, adhering to his rulebook by the letter, while Darius uses his various tricks to escape custody and consequently put the mission in jeopardy. The movie certainly runs too long at nearly two hours, but at least the runtime means that no plot elements or character relationships feel short-changed. Nevertheless, more energy would have benefitted the flick, as it does feel its length from time to time. Admittedly, too, The Hitmanís Bodyguard doesnít contain much in the way of innovation; it lacks a spin to distinguish it from similar endeavours. Considering the talents of Jackson and Reynolds, there was certainly room to satirise and subvert the mismatched buddy action-comedy subgenre (especially given the brilliant official poster which sends up 1992ís The Bodyguard), but The Hitmanís Bodyguard is content to be just another generic outing teeming with shootouts and chases. Whether or not thatís good enough is entirely up to you.
††† At the helm of The Hitmanís Bodyguard is Australian filmmaker Patrick Hughes, late of the outstanding Red Hill and 2014ís less impressive The Expendables 3. Say what you will about his limp Expendables instalment, but the director did at least show promise in the creation of the action sequences, and he does much better here. Action is frequent throughout, and Hughes acquits himself well, staging brutal, bloody mayhem with welcome verve, showing what heís capable of with the freedom of an R rating. Although the set-pieces are frenetically shot and edited, this amplifies the sense of excitement, and itís still easy to make out whatís happening. The standout has to be a chase through the streets and canals of Amsterdam involving cars, a boat, and a motorbike - the stunt-work is a treat, and the set-piece itself is worthy of a James Bond film. To be sure, thereís not much of a feeling that the (anti)heroes are in real danger, but itís still fun to watch Michael and Darius dispatching masses of nameless goons as they battle their way through the Netherlands. On that note, itís fortunate that The Hitmanís Bodyguard is not set in nondescript Eastern European locations like many of Millennium Filmsí recent output (Boyka: Undisputed IV) - with its Netherlands setting, thereís lots of eye-catching scenery and the flick is endowed with a unique flavour. If there are any shortcomings in the movieís glossy technical presentation, itís the occasional moments of shonky green screening and CGI backgrounds, but thatís par for the course with this studio.
††† Itís apparent that a fair few of the laughs were likely improvised by the actors, but what matters is that The Hitmanís Bodyguard is frequently amusing, and left this reviewer in fits of laughter. Even though Reynolds is tasked to play the straight man to Jacksonís more frenzied Darius, the Deadpool actor does get the chance to flex his comedic muscles on several occasions, and he has this particular shtick down to a fine art. However, unsurprisingly, itís Jackson who walks away with the movie. Given the freedom to swear up a storm as per his usual modus operandi, Jackson is firmly in his element here, clearly having a fun time playing this skilful, incredibly arrogant assassin. Hayek is also put to good use as Dariusís hot-headed bride, scoring plenty of laughs and stealing every scene in which she features (even in a sequence entirely bereft of dialogue that makes brilliant use of Lionel Ritchieís ďHelloĒ). Meanwhile, Oldman can do this type of villain role in his sleep (Air Force One), and the seasoned actor appears to be one of the only cast members to take the material seriously. Heís a fine villain as always, adding a touch of gravitas to the proceedings.
††† If The Hitmanís Bodyguard was produced sometime in the 1990s (starring Jackson and, say, Bruce Willis), it would probably be considered a minor cult action title and might have even been better-received by critics. In 2017, itís not exactly relevant, but for the right audience itís a pleasant alternative within a summer season full of expensive studio blockbusters. If The Hitmanís Bodyguard carried a safer PG-13 rating, it would likely have felt too painfully generic and vanilla, but with an R rating allowing for punchier one-liners, colourful bantering and blood sprays, the movie does its job better than perhaps it should. Be warned, though, that it is quite violent at times, and some critics have even complained that itís too bloody for a comedy, so a strong stomach is recommended and itís not for everyone. Nevertheless, I cannot deny that the movie worked for me. Itís a fun time. Note that there is an outtake at the end of the credits - and itís funny, so stick around for it.
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††††The Hitman's Bodyguard was reportedly captured digitally at 3.4K resolution (predominantly with Arri Alexa cameras), and completed natively at 4K. In addition, the movie was given a Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range grade for its theatrical run, making it even more perfect for a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. Arriving locally courtesy of Roadshow Entertainment, The Hitman's Bodyguard is presented in 2160p and makes use of the HEVC/H.265 video codec, and the disc's HDR is thankfully encoded in Dolby Vision. (But if you're not Dolby Vision-compatible, the disc defaults to HDR10.) Native 4K and Dolby Vision? It's everything that picky videophiles crave! As to be expected, the resulting video presentation is consistently stunning, topping its 1080p counterpart with ease and confidence. As with Roadshow's other 4K releases, the disc was authored and encoded overseas - its specs are identical to the United States UHD release, and the disc only exhibits Summit Entertainment/Lionsgate logos.
††† Framed at 2.39:1 (its original aspect ratio), the visual style of The Hitman's Bodyguard doesn't always translate to the sharpest or best-looking image - there are diffusion filters at play and light is often overblown, making for some overexposed and soft-looking shots. Plus, some of the CGI looks undeniably shonky, which is more noticeable with the increased resolution. But considering the source, warts and all, it's hard to imagine a better UHD transfer - in fact, it looks even better on 4K Blu-ray than it did at the cinema. When the transfer is on, it's really on; textures are finely-resolved and the image is razor-sharp. Clarity is exceptional and the source looks pristine, with no blemishes or video artefacts. Even in medium shots of Reynolds, the level of fine detail and sharpness allows you to count every hair on his face. You can make out every pore and wrinkle on Jackson's face, while clothing is insanely detailed as well. Source noise is present from time to time, but it looks finely-resolved and only accentuates the texture of the image, and it's not always apparent. Even when no noise is visible, the image never looks smooth or smeary, which is a miracle for a digitally-shot motion picture. Certain flashbacks are intentionally grainy, made to look more like old film stock, but again the grain is well-resolved.
††† At this point in time, only certain models of Oppo players as well as the LG UP970 support Dolby Vision discs, though the latter saw its firmware update pulled after a matter of days due to reported glitches. (As with The Fate of the Furious, I noticed no "grey bars" issue unless I truly crank up the brightness.) Since DV is dynamic HDR, contrast and darkness looks better balanced on the whole compared to the HDR10 edition, though the difference still isn't exactly major. There is incredible depth to the transfer at any given time, with deep, inky blacks and vibrant colours. The use of HDR is particularly beneficial for the interrogation scene at the 77-minute mark which is bathed in neon purple and red. Skin tones admittedly look odd at the beginning of the movie (particularly Reynolds' skin at the airport, but as Hughes points out in the commentary, he's wearing fake tan which made the scene hard to light and grade), but this traces back to the filmmaking style, and skin looks more realistic once the movie really gets going (saturated though it certainly is). Admittedly, too, the UHD encode does no favours to some of the green screen shots which looked rough enough in the cinema and on the standard 1080p Blu-ray, but such shots are thankfully infrequent.
††† Lionsgate/Summit make use of dual-layered BD-66 for the presentation, and it's sufficient to accommodate both the two-hour movie and the small smattering of special features without giving rise to compression issues or encoding anomalies. With the well-judged Dolby Vision HDR grade, there's no evident black crush, and the encode never falls victim to macroblocking, aliasing or even banding. This is a rock-solid, stable transfer all the way through. Despite being produced for such a scant $30 million budget, The Hitman's Bodyguard is borderline demo material, showing the benefits of a native 4K finish from a detail, sharpness and depth standpoint. And it is definitely worth buying in lieu of the standard Blu-ray. Say whatever you will about the movie itself, but you cannot deny the overwhelming strengths of this 4K presentation.
††† English and Spanish subtitles are included. There are hardcoded English subtitles for non-English dialogue, which are thankfully not player-generated and look stylish.
Video Ratings Summary
††† Whereas the standard 1080p Blu-ray features a downgraded 5.1 audio mix, this 4K Ultra HD disc ups the ante with a Dolby Atmos track, in keeping with the movie's theatrical exhibition. (Native 4K plus Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos? This is the real deal!) Of course, if your player cannot decode Atmos, the audio defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track. No surprises here - much like the video, this is a reference-quality Atmos audio track, with insane dynamic range and flawless mixing. I only have a 7.1 set-up and therefore cannot fully evaluate the track, but I was still highly impressed. First things first: dialogue is always well-prioritised, even during the loud action beats. I never had any issues hearing whatever the characters are saying. In addition, since this is a lossless track, The Hitman's Bodyguard sounds crystal clear and pristine, with nothing in the way of muffling.
††† During the initial shootout between Interpol agents and the hired mercenaries, gunfire can be heard coming from all around, with deliberate placement to create an immersive soundscape. When Reynolds stands before the camera ranting about Darius at the 70-minute mark while mayhem erupts all around him, panning is used as a vehicle approaches and drives past him. This type of stuff is evident throughout the movie, especially during the action scenes, with the rear channels consistently being put to great use. In addition, the subwoofer roars to life whenever the occasion calls for it, adding impact to explosions, gunshots and bullet hits. This is an aggressive track too, with nothing sounding too soft.
††† I have no complaints about the audio, which is free of encoding issues and represents a huge step up compared to the 5.1 mix on the standard Blu-ray. I know which disc I'll be grabbing whenever I re-watch The Hitman's Bodyguard in the future. The disc also contains English Descriptive Audio as well as an English 2.0 remix for late-night listening, for those interested.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
††† The 4K disc contains the same extras available on the included standard Blu-ray. We have an audio commentary track, and less than an hour of video material. Considering its box office success, I would have expected more.
Director's Commentary††† Director Patrick Hughes drops in for a solo commentary track, recorded two weeks after the film's initial release (when it was at the top of the box office). With his thick Australian accent, Hughes has a lot of interesting information to impart, initially covering locations (of course Bulgaria was used whenever possible) and even pointing out that the opening sequence was inspired by a commercial featuring Reynolds from ten years earlier. Hughes even brought along his Jackson beer bottle opener which says "Motherf***er," and he tries to drink whenever Jackson swears in the movie, though he quickly gives this up. Though there are patches of dead air, Hughes still has a lot of scene-specific tidbits, pointing out how the script was changed in pre-production and during filming, and talking about the actors at length. I also enjoyed hearing about shooting in Amsterdam (including the required crowd control), and choosing to shoot all of the stunts in-camera (which shows in the finished movie). As with other modern movies, there are also surprising things that were added with CGI (including bars on windows and water from a shower), and Hughes touches upon the soundtrack choices as well. This is well worth listening to.
Outtakes (HD; 5:23) ††† Expectedly, this is an enormously amusing selection of bloopers as the actors crack up, muck around, miss their cues and flub lines. There is even footage of a stunt driver crashing into a tram, which was discussed during Hughes' commentary track. In addition, the blooper from the end credits is included, too.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 4:44) ††† Four deleted scenes, which can either be watched individually or via a "Play All" function. These don't add much to the movie (three of four primarily involve Dukhovich), and were wisely left out. Sound mixing, grading and special effects are all incomplete, of course. Included is Call For Help, Get Ivan, A Leader Leads and Making Plans.
Extended Scenes (HD; 2:59) ††† Four extended scenes, which can either be watched individually or via a "Play All." Included is Getting Out Alive, Is That Your Car?, I Live In This Building and Welcome To Amsterdam. Honestly, some of these should have made it into the finished movie - particularly Is That Your Car?, which provides more bantering between Reynolds and Jackson.
Alternate Scenes (HD) ††† Two alternate scenes, which can only be watched individually: Breaking Protocol (1:05) and Confrontation on Roof (1:59). Interestingly, the first scene here is actually an alternate edition of the deleted scene Call For Help - I guess neither version of the scene was able to work in the final cut.
The Hitman's Bodyguard: A Love Story (HD; 8:56) ††† This is a pretty typical behind-the-scenes EPK-style featurette. There's no structure here - the talking heads interviews are all over the place, covering the initial concept, the actors, and the story. But of course, it never touches upon anything with any great substance. The dull-looking SDR film clips will make you appreciate the Dolby Vision grade all the more.
Hitman vs. Bodyguard (HD; 4:23) ††† This is pretty useless, and should have just been used as a YouTube promotional piece. This is just a selection of film clips used to profile the two central characters. There are no interviews, nor is there any on-set footage.
Dangerous Women (HD; 8:21) ††† As implied by the title, this featurette covers the two central female characters, both of whom get the opportunity to kick some ass in the movie.
Big Action in a Big World (HD; 7:53) ††† And finally, we have a behind-the-scenes featurette concerned with the action set-pieces. It's indeed nice to see so much old-school stunt-work and explosions. I enjoyed this featurette, particularly all the behind-the-scenes footage, but of course I wish it was longer.
R4 vs R1
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non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
† † As previously stated, this is the exact same disc that was released in the United States. Buy local.
††† Critical mauling aside, I seriously enjoyed The Hitman's Bodyguard. It's exactly what I wanted from a simple, modestly-budgeted action-comedy. If this type of movie is your thing, you'll almost certainly enjoy it.
††† Roadshow's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is easily the superior way to experience this movie, as the video quality is borderline flawless and the audio is flawless. Although special features are too light, they are worthwhile for the most part, particularly the audio commentary. An easy recommendation.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, December 02, 2017
|DVD||LG UP970 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|