From the director of “The Expendables 3” comes a film that’s as predictable and by the books as you can get in the action genre. If there are surprises along the way, it’s at the monstrous running time and complete change of direction in subject matter. “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has a tonal problem. Poor Gary Oldman appears to have been given a completely different script to contour his antagonist around. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson play the same characters they have been doing for years. It’s “Deadpool” without the mask. Their back and forth banter isn’t unlike a 90s “Die Hard”/”Lethal Weapon” flick, but when we cut back to Oldman (“The Space Between Us”), he’s in seriously disturbed, totally believable, dictator/terrorist mode. It’s a return to stereotype for the Oscar nominated actor, who for the last decade has tried to shed the villainous persona he built a career around.

From elite status with the CIA, Michael Bryce (Reynolds) has been reduced to a bargain bin high security protector after a mishap. His ex-girlfriend, a high-ranking Interpol agent, summons him for help when she has nowhere else to turn. The mission is to protect an infamous and highly wanted hitman, Darius Kincaid (Jackson) and get him to The Hague in the Netherlands to testify against a dictator, on the condition that his innocent, imprisoned wife Sonia (Hayek), will be released. The problem is Kincaid and Bryce have a past, on opposing sides of the protection code. Many people Bryce hired to protect (high ranking bad guys) were the same people Kincaid was hired to kill. Now they must cross Europe in a tiny car with mercenaries on their tail.

Salma Hayek (“Beatriz at Dinner”) is the only entertaining bit of the whole film, and you could watch her handful of scenes out of context, in clips, and get all that you need. As we shift from bloody action movie, to buddy comedy, to Oldman being a Bond villain, Hayek hamming it up with profanity; “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is all over the place. During most of the action scenes where thugs are shot point blank in the head, high energy, groove music is playing to make light of the situation that people are being killed and slaughtered right and left for your enjoyment. For long stretches, especially when we get to The Hague, the carefully chosen soundtrack music covers long stretches of stunts where no dialogue is needed.

A curious fish-eye lens is used from beginning to end, during cutaway scenes from interior dialogued moments. It’s a distracting gimmick that drastically changes the quality of the picture every time it’s used. The three-way chase scene in Amsterdam involving a car, motorcycle and boat sports some of the most impressive editing in the entire film. It’s the centerpiece of a film that’s so noisy, loud and busy, upon reflection it’s difficult to recall many of the stunts. The plot is where the film fails the hardest, the predictable relationship between Reynolds and his woman, Reynolds and Jackson becoming equal partners and, of course, survival. “Hitman’s Bodyguard” will please those who expect nothing but action movie leftovers.

Final thought — Hayek is the only reason to see the predictable, by-the-numbers action flick.

Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. Visit texasartfilm.com.

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