X-Men at 20: A Look Back

Twenty years ago today, Bryan Singer’s X-Men arrived in theaters and it’s not hyperbole to call it one of the most influential pictures of the 21st century. The 20th Century Fox release found the comic book genre at a rather low point at the end of that said century. While Blade was a nice size hit in 1998, the years prior found at a lot to be desired with the quality of the genre. 1995 brought us Judge Dredd and 1997 saw the release of Batman and Robin, which found the Caped Crusader with Bat nipples and bad reviews.

X-Men, though it’s hard to remember now, was released at a time where the idea of superhero tales was an uncertain box office prospect. This is two years before Spider-Man broke all kinds of financial records. This is five years prior to Christopher Nolan reinvigorating the Bat franchise with his Dark Knight trilogy. And this was eight years before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man, officially kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In the summer of 2000, X-Men was by no means a guaranteed hit. It did, however, have credibility with the behind the scenes talent and cast. Bryan Singer was known for his heralded The Usual Suspects. Acclaimed actors Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen (fresh off an Oscar nod for Gods and Monsters), Anna Paquin, and Halle Berry were among the onscreen players. And it was another casting decision that provided its most enduring legacy. Russell Crowe, who headlined that summer’s Oscar winner Gladiator, originally turned down the part of Wolverine. Dougray Scott was then cast in the role, but had to drop out when his role as the villain in Mission: Impossible II (also out that summer) prevented him from filming. So it was the unknown Hugh Jackman who donned the claws. He would go on to make it his signature role as he played Logan/Wolverine in numerous sequels and spin-offs (including three stand-alone projects of wildly divergent qualities).

Let’s back up. Before the 2000 release, X-Men was in development for over a decade and a half. At one point, James Cameron was slated to produce with his then wife Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct. Later on, Robert Rodriguez turned the project down. A gander at the pic’s Wikipedia page is an entertaining read (Mariah Carey was in the mix for Storm at one juncture and Angela Bassett was first choice). X-Men was rushed to make its summer release date 20 years ago today after it was originally intended for Christmas 2000.

That rushed feeling does show on up on screen a little, but the overall end result speaks for itself. What occurred two decades ago is a major mark in the comic book movie renaissance that continues to this day. The franchise has certainly had its ups and downs. X2: X-Men United was the first sequel in 2003 and it is generally considered a high point. Three years later, Brett Ratner took over directorial reigns with The Last Stand and (while a huge hit) the quality took a dip. Matthew Vaughn would reestablish critical kudos in rebooting the series in 2011 with First Class (bringing Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence to the screen playing younger counterparts to key characters). Jackman’s first spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine faced deserved backlash while 2017’s Logan was lauded and landed an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination. And a cheeky and R rated offshoot called Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds would dazzle audiences and critics alike. Last summer’s Dark Phoenix didn’t do any dazzling and was another low ebb in the series. Spin-off The New Mutants has seen release date changes that began in 2018 and it’s pretty much a running joke as to whether it will ever come out.

That long road began in 2000 and has shaped the cinematic universe since. And if you had to mark a spot for the comic book landscape today as it stands now on the screen, it started that day.

2019: The Year of Netflix

Today kicks off my posts on the performers who will be remembered for having a strong 2019 and making an impact on the silver screen. However, as I have in previous years, my first writeup goes to a studio. And while Disney could be named every year nowadays (and they certainly had a terrific year), we turn to Netflix in 2019.

It’s hard to believe now, but it was a few short years ago that their big budget TV series House of Cards was considered a risk. Could this streaming service provide truly quality original content? Times have changed, ladies and gents.

Netflix has become an undeniable hub for high profile directors and actors. 2019 saw the studio give us successful comedies such as Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston and the acclaimed rom com Always Be My Maybe. 

Action directors like Michael Bay turned to the service with 6 Underground starring Ryan Reynolds. We have filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh making Netflix a home with both High Flying Bird and The Laundromat. Millions of eyeballs were tuned to the Breaking Bad continuation El Camino. 

Most notably, 2019 seems destined to be the year when Oscar voters won’t be able to ignore it. The conversation about Netflix being able to garner multiple Academy nods is about to become a moot one. 2017 and 2018 saw voters nibble around the edges. Two years ago, Mudbound managed a Supporting Actress nod for Mary J. Blige and Adapted Screenplay. 2018’s Roma received a number of nominations and Alfonso Cuaron won for Best Director. It was considered a frontrunner for Picture, but lost to Green Book. Some blamed it on bias against the biggest streamer.

This year, we have two films that could win the largest prize of all – Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. Other contenders for a nomination include The Two Popes and Dolemite Is My Name, which returned to Eddie Murphy to form. Between those four pictures, you could see as many as a dozen acting nominations.

There’s little doubt that 2019 gave us a shifting in the tide of Netflix’s credibility. And that’s likely to stay. My Year Of posts will continue soon with some of the actors who had a lot to celebrate…

Summer 2009: The Top 10 Hits and More

Today we continue with my recaps of the movie summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. I’ve already covered 1989 and 1999 and if you missed them, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/10/summer-1989-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/23/summer-1999-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Looking over the 2009 list, it’s a reminder of how one thing in particular has changed in just a decade. In the summer of 2008, Iron Man came out and kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two seasons later, Iron Man 2 followed. In every summer since, there’s been a massive MCU title often ruling the charts. 2009 is the last year not to feature one.

Instead, one of the most indelible images from 10 years past is Mike Tyson belting out a Phil Collins classic.

As I’ve done with previous entries, I’ll recount the top ten hits along with some other notable pics and flops. Let’s get to it!

10. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Domestic Gross: $150 million

Hasbro was kind of the MCU of this summer by bookending the top 10. Based on their popular set of action figures, Cobra spawned a sequel and introduced many moviegoers to Channing Tatum.

9. The Proposal

Domestic Gross: $163 million

What a year for Sandra Bullock. First she has this huge rom com with Ryan Reynolds and months later gets her Oscar winning turn in The Blind Side. Not to mention Betty White is in this!

8. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Domestic Gross: $177 million

While it couldn’t match the $250 million earned by its 2006 predecessor, the Ben Stiller led  family adventure sequel still did enough for a part 3 to eventually follow.

7. XMen Origins: Wolverine

Domestic Gross: $179 million

The first of three spinoffs for Hugh Jackman’s iconic clawed character, this is generally considered the worst of them. It still made a pretty penny and gave us a first glimpse at Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool.

6. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Domestic Gross: $196 million

The third of these five animated tales, Dinosaurs stands at the largest grosser by a mere $1 million over 2006 predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown.

5. Star Trek

Domestic Gross: $257 million

J.J. Abrams was able to bring this long running film and TV milestone to the next generation in a critically acclaimed way. His reboot remains the highest grossing entry in the canon of Trek. Two sequels so far have followed.

4. The Hangover

Domestic Gross: $277 million

The breakout comedy of the summer made stars out of Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis in particular and had the aforementioned Mike Tyson musical moment of glory. Two lesser regarded sequels followed.

3. Up

Domestic Gross: $293 million

Pixar had another smash hit with this tale of aging and wonder that contains my personal favorite sequence of any of their titles. The opening montage of a couple’s journey through life is simultaneously beautiful and devastating.

2. Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince

Domestic Gross: $301 million

This sixth Potter pic set up the two part franchise finale and it stands at the third biggest grosser behind the eighth and final entry and the first film in 2001.

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Domestic Gross: $402 million

The follow-up to the 2007 original, Michael Bay’s metallic action extravaganza is the high point in terms of box office dollars overall and largest opening, even though critics mercilessly crucified it.

And now for some other notable flicks from the summer that was 10 years ago:

Angels & Demons

Domestic Gross: $133 million

The sequel to The Da Vinci Code, the return of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon performed decently, but nowhere near the $217 million achieved by its predecessor. The next sequel Inferno bombed.

Inglourious Basterds

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist World War II saga become his best earning pic at the time and earned a slew of Oscar nods, including a win for scene stealer Christoph Waltz.

District 9

Domestic Gross: $115 million

Made for a mere $30 million, Neill Blomkamp announced himself a serious force of sci-fi nature with heralded work that nabbed a Best Picture nod.

Public Enemies

Domestic Gross: $97 million

This gangster tale from Michael Mann was headlined by Johnny Depp and Christian Bale as they took a break between their respective pirate and bat franchises. It was a slight box office disappointment as it couldn’t quite match its $100 million budget back domestically.

Julie & Julia

Domestic Gross: $94 million

Meryl Streep got her umpteenth Oscar nod playing famed chef Julia Child in this Nora Ephron dramedy that proved to be a nice August hit.

Bruno

Domestic Gross: $60 million

There was enough goodwill left over from Sacha Baron Cohen’s smash Borat to propel this satire about a fashion journalist to a $30 million opening weekend. It fell off quickly after that impressive start.

Drag Me to Hell

Domestic Gross: $42 million

Following on the heels of his SpiderMan trilogy, this horror comedy brought Sam Raimi back to his Evil Dead roots. Box office dollars were just ok, but critics appreciated it.

(500) Days of Summer

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Made for a tiny $7.5 million, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel charmed audiences with this rom com from Marc Webb. He would take over the Spidey franchise from Raimi shortly thereafter.

The Hurt Locker

Domestic Gross: $17 million

Kathryn Bigelow’s intense tale of bomb technicians in Iraq made a name for Jeremy Renner. While its box office earnings weren’t that potent, the real reward came later when it won the Oscar for Best Picture and Bigelow became the first female to be awarded Best Director.

We move to pictures that failed to meet expectations or were outright flops.

Terminator Salvation

Domestic Gross: $125 million

The Governor of California sat this one out and this McG directed franchise entry couldn’t match the opening of part 3 from six years prior. Today it’s perhaps best known for a secretly recorded onset argument between McG and star Christian Bale.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Domestic Gross: $65 million

A remake of a 1974 Walter Matthau action flick about hijacked subway cars, Tony Scott’s collaboration starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta fell short of anticipated blockbuster status.

Funny People

Domestic Gross: $51 million

Judd Apatow had made two huge comedies with The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. This one centered on the world of stand-up with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. It was more personal and divided critics and crowds alike.

Land of the Lost

Domestic Gross: $49 million

Based on a loopy 1970s TV series, Will Ferrell had a rare bomb with this critically derided prehistoric pic. It didn’t earn half of its $100 million price tag back stateside.

Year One

Domestic Gross: $43 million

Yet another prehistoric comedic failure, the talents of director Harold Ramis and Jack Black and Michael Cena couldn’t get reviewers or audiences on its side.

Imagine That

Domestic Gross: $16 million

Families ignored this particular Eddie Murphy headliner that stands as one of his lowest grossing efforts.

And that does it for my seasonal summer recaps! A year from now… look for 1990, 2000, and 2010 coming your way.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Update (05/08): I am downgrading my estimate from $74.8 million to $64.8 million

Ryan Reynolds hangs up the Deadpool costume for a bit in order to lend his voice to another hoped for franchise when Pokemon Detective Pikachu debuts next weekend. Based on a 2016 video game, the Pokémon series has been thriving for nearly a quarter century in various iterations on Nintendo and on the big screen. Rob Letterman, who was behind the camera on Gulliver’s Travels and Goosebumps, directs. A mix of live-action and animation, the supporting cast includes Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Suki Waterhouse, Ken Watanabe, and Bill Nighy.

Warner Bros is certainly hoping a slew of follow-up features are in the cards. A sequel has already been commissioned. With Reynolds in the lead and the popularity of the source material, the studio might find itself in luck. Estimates for the opening weekend gross are wide-ranging – everywhere from $50 million to over $100 million. If it falls on the lower end of that spectrum, it may not top the box office due to the third weekend of the record-breaking Avengers: Endgame.

In 1999, Pokemon: The First Movie opened to $31 million and ended up with $85 million. Sequel Pokemon: The Movie 2000 couldn’t replicate that success with a $19 million start and $43 overall gross. By 2001, the series had run out of gas when Pokemon 3: The Movie opened to $8 million and petered out at $17 million.

Expectations are different this time around. I’ll say Pikachu (The Movie) has an opening in the middle of its huge range and that’s about $10-15 million under what the first movie accomplished overall 20 years ago.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu opening weekend prediction: $64.8 million

For my The Hustle prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/04/30/the-hustle-box-office-prediction/

For my Poms prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/02/poms-box-office-prediction/

For my Tolkien prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/05/04/tolkien-box-office-prediction/

2018: The Year of Josh Brolin

He’s been an Oscar nominee for Milk, the star of Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men, a Man in Black for the third entry of that franchise, and (of course) the big brother in The Goonies. And in 2018, Josh Brolin was unquestionably the king of the summer sequel, setting up roles that will continue for some time.

It all started with the summer season’s biggest blockbuster – Avengers: Infinity War. As villainous Thanos, Brolin pretty much stole the show against the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. A few weeks later, the actor starred alongside Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool 2, which stands as the year’s fifth top earner. Sicario: Day of the Soldado followed shortly after that with Brolin reprising his role as a CIA agent barking orders to Benicio del Toro. That follow-up managed to top the gross of its 2015 predecessor.

We can expect to see him in all three of these parts again. In summer 2019, Thanos will be back in Avengers: Endgame. He’s signed a four picture deal to be Cable in that cinematic universe. A third Sicario feature is planned.

In a career that kicked off over three decades ago alongside One-Eyed Willy and Sloth, Brolin established a trio of characters that we’ll likely see onscreen for the foreseeable future.

2018 Golden Globe Predictions

The Golden Globes, perhaps the biggest precursor of all to the Oscars, unveils their nominees this Thursday as awards prognosticators like me attempt to read tea leaves. As a reminder, the Globes do it a bit differently than the Academy. For Picture and lead acting races, nominees are divided into Drama and Musical/Comedy. Unlike the Oscars, Screenplay is just one category with five pictures, whether they’re original or adapted works.

It should be strong showings for A Star Is Born and The Favourite in particular. Another difference between Globes and Oscar is that foreign features are only honored in their particular category. That’s significant this year as Roma will only be called for Foreign Language Film.

One item to pay attention to – Clint Eastwood’s The Mule. Despite coming out a week from Friday, it has yet to have reviews come out (perhaps this will change by Thursday). If it makes a showing in any of the dramatic races, that could bode well for Oscar attention.

Here are my predictions for the nominees in each category, along with an alternate and a wild card pick. I’ll have my weekly Oscar predictions updated on Thursday and we’ll see if the Globes alter those picks in any way.

Let’s get to it!

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

A Star Is Born

BlacKkKlansman

Black Panther

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Alternate – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Wild Card – The Mule

Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)

Crazy Rich Asians

The Favourite

Green Book

Mary Poppins Returns

Vice

Alternate – Eighth Grade

Wild Card – Private Life

Best Director

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk

Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite

Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman

Alternate – Peter Farrelly, Green Book

Wild Card – Damien Chazelle, First Man

Best Actor (Drama)

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate

Ryan Gosling, First Man

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Alternate – Clint Eastwood, The Mule

Wild Card – Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

Best Actress (Drama)

Yalitza Aparicio, Roma

Glenn Close, The Wife

Viola Davis, Widows

Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born

Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back

Wild Card – Toni Collette, Hereditary

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Christian Bale, Vice

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns

Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun

Nick Robinson, Love, Simon

Alternate – John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie

Wild Card – Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool 2

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)

Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns

Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Charlize Theron, Tully

Constance Wu, Crazy Rich Asians

Alternate – Regina Hall, Support the Girls

Wild Card – Kathryn Hahn, Private Life

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Green Book

Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy

Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman

Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born

Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Alternate – Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite

Wild Card – Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, Vice

Claire Foy, First Man

Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk

Emma Stone, The Favourite

Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Alternate – Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased

Wild Card – Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians

Best Animated Feature Film

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs

Mirai

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Alternate – Smallfoot

Wild Card – The Grinch

Best Foreign Language Film

Cold War

Girl

Never Look Away

Roma

Shoplifters

Alternate – Capernaum

Wild Card – I Am Not a Witch

Best Screenplay

A Star Is Born

The Favourite

If Beale Street Could Talk

Roma

Vice

Alternate – Green Book

Wild Card – First Reformed

Best Original Score

BlacKkKlansman

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Queen of Scots

Alternate – Widows

Wild Card – Suspiria

Best Original Song

“All the Stars” from Black Panther

“Girl in the Movies” from Dumplin’

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

“The Shallow” from A Star Is Born

“Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns

Alternate – “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born

Wild Card – “A Place Called Slaughter Race” from Ralph Breaks the Internet

And that equates to the following number of nominations for each picture:

6 Nominations

The Favourite

5 Nominations

A Star Is Born, If Beale Street Could Talk, Mary Poppins Returns

4 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, First Man, Roma, Vice

3 Nominations

Green Book

2 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Crazy Rich Asians

1 Nomination

Black Panther, At Eternity’s Gate, First Reformed, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Wife, Widows, The Old Man & The Gun, Love, Simon, Eighth Grade, Tully, Beautiful Boy, Incredibles 2, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Cold War, Never Look Away, Shoplifters, Mary Queen of Scots

I’ll have reaction up on Thursday with updated Oscar picks later that day!

Deadpool 2 Movie Review

Two years ago, Deadpool was a breath of filthy fresh air in the superhero genre with Ryan Reynolds triumphing in bringing the title character to the big screen (as we forget XMen: Wolverine ever existed… sort of). No one was sure whether a very R rated comic book protagonist could succeed with audiences, but he did and then some. The inevitable sequel risks the chance of having a been there, done that vibe. For a while, Deadpool 2 comes dangerously close to being that. The self referential  jokes and carefree energy threatens to make part II nothing more than a featherweight viewing with a few clever gags thrown in. Luckily, Deadpool gets his groove back in time to make it something a little more. Does it match the quality of its predecessor? No, but there’s certainly moments (especially in the second half) that work very well.

We open with Wade Wilson, aka Mr. Pool, having a demented ball fighting sex traffickers and other baddies while in his blissful romance with soul mate Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Some complications interrupt his happy-go-lucky routine and he soon finds himself in a bad way. He finds teenage mutant Russell (Julian Dennison) with flames for fists that he struggles to protect from future traveling soldier Cable (Josh Brolin, summer 2018’s villain du jour). Deadpool also assembles a motley crew of a team known as X-Force (which even he knows is a derivative monicker). For those who’ve witnessed our hero in action before, we know that none of this is exactly pulled off with expert precision. It is a joy to welcome back some of his unconventional crime fighting partners, particularly Karan Soni’s taxi driving sidekick.

The first half of Deadpool 2 is equipped with some humorous cameos and quips galore. And so is the second half. The difference is that for the first hour or so, the pic seems a bit unfocused and content to coast on its meta merits. It isn’t until some of the new characters motivations are explained that the follow-up gathers that needed focus. Once that happens, the gags work better. It also helps that the action sequences seem to jump up a notch towards the end.

One item that doesn’t change is the commitment that Reynolds brings to his beloved character. He clearly loves playing the part and it shows. Brolin, like his Thanos In Avengers: Infinity War, plays an antagonist with some actually understandable motivation for the second time in a month. He’s no Thanos, but he’s a reasonably interesting dude. Part II delves more into Deadpool’s connection with the X-Men and occasionally in ways that induce well-earned laughter.

The originality factor that made Deadpool such a welcome addition to an always growing genre over can’t be replicated here. However, enough of the winking dirty charms we experienced in 2016 are present.

*** (out of four)

Oscar Watch: Deadpool 2

Last night, Deadpool 2 set the Thursday preview record for an R rated feature and the sequel could well be on its way to the best debut ever for a picture with that rating. It might be easy to forget now, but the original Deadpool in 2016 likely came close to receiving some Oscar nods. The pic did receive nominations for both the film itself and Ryan Reynolds for Best Actor in the Musical/Comedy races at the Golden Globes.

Many of the reviews for the sequel claim part two is an improvement on the first (though certainly not all). The original ended up at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and the follow-up currently sits at 85%. So it’s worth at least asking: could Deadpool 2 garner the Academy’s attention in a way that the first barely missed out on? The short answer is… probably not. No comic book adaptation has managed a Best Picture nomination and this won’t change that. On the other hand, Black Panther just might.

Furthermore, while many superhero adaptations like Panther and Avengers: Infinity War could play in the technical races, that doesn’t really hold true here. Bottom line: Deadpool 2 is highly unlikely to change this franchise receiving no love from Oscar voters.

Deadpool 2 Box Office Prediction

The nation’s favorite R rated superhero is back in theaters next weekend when Deadpool 2 debuts. Arriving two years plus after the original became a massive hit, Ryan Reynolds returns in the title role with David Leitch (director of Atomic Blonde) taking over the behind the camera duties from Tim Miller. Costars include Monica Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Leslie Uggams, and the summer’s comic book villain of choice, Josh Brolin as Cable (coming off his acclaimed work as Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War).

In February of 2016, Deadpool took in an astonishing $132 million and grossed $363 million overall domestically. That still stands as the largest R rated debut of all time and it sits only behind The Passion of the Christ for all-time earners with that rating. There is a legitimate possibility that part two manages to exceed that opening weekend haul.

I’ll project that Deadpool 2 manages to just do that with a debut approaching $140 million.

Deadpool 2 opening weekend prediction: $137.4 million

For my Book Club prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/09/book-club-box-office-prediction/

For my Show Dogs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/10/show-dogs-box-office-prediction/

For my Pope Francis: A Man of His Word prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/05/13/pope-francis-a-man-of-his-word-box-office-prediction/

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Movie Review

Had The Hitman’s Bodyguard been made in the mid to late 1990s, it may well have involved three of the performers present. We have Samuel L. Jackson as one of the co-leads. There’s Gary Oldman overacting his tail off as the main baddie. And Salma Hayek adds a sassy flavor as a love interest. There would be no Ryan Reynolds, who would have been in his late teens or early 20s at the time. Instead, maybe Bruce Willis or Kurt Russell could have filled his role.

As such, the three actors mentioned are a bit older and filling parts we’ve seen them cast in before. Bodyguard is joyfully R rated, filled with action genre familiarities, and (to use a reviewer’s cliche) it hits the mark sporadically. Reynolds is Michael Bryce, former CIA officer and triple A rated executive protection officer. What is exactly gives one the distinction of being triple A rated in this particular field? None of the other character seem to know, but he seems supremely confident in the designation. Essentially, he’s good at not letting the people he protects (some of whom are nefarious types) die.

His unblemished record is thwarted early here and his career goes down the tubes. Bryce gets back in the game a couple years later when notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) needs a protector. He’s been imprisoned for some time and he’s a key government witness against a foreign dictator (Oldman) for his many crimes. There’s a whole army of the dictator’s henchmen who wish to keep Kincaid from the witness stand.

Much of the action here takes place in Amsterdam as Bryce tries to get his subject to The Hague to testify. Our two leads have a checkered history together and getting them to work together doesn’t come easily. Bryce believes his protection methods work best (don’t kill anyone) while Kincaid feels differently (kill everyone). The comedic banter between Reynolds and Jackson works well much of the time as they try to one up each other in their work.

Both principal’s have ladies in their lives. Elodie Yung is Bryce’s ex who he still can’t let go of. Hayek is Kincaid’s wife, apparently jailed simply due to her association with her hubby. Her character rivals his in their extreme use of the word mother****er, which had basically become Jackson’s catchphrase in countless pictures.

Expendables 3 director Patrick Hughes keeps Bodyguard charging along with action set pieces that are competent and pretty much instantly forgettable. We get some backstory of the pair and how they met their women. This is done so in flashback sequences that are a bit superfluous and complete with ironically cliched song choices. For someone who’s played some very memorable villains, Oldman’s screen time is too limited to make much impact.

 

The stars of The Hitman’s Bodyguard certainly keep it watchable and there’s a select few genuinely funny moments splattered around the cartoonish mayhem. On the other hand, Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Jackson have appeared in violent flicks before that you’ll remember in the morning. That doesn’t quite hold true here.

**1/2 (out of four)