The buddies in question are played by Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, two stars who have branded their big-screen personalities to the point where it's almost impossible for either of them to do anything unexpected.
Reynolds can be smart in the glib way of characters created by snark-capable writers. Jackson does variations on the savvy, profanity-spewing killer who eventually reveals a moral foundation for his seemingly reprehensible actions.
Watching Reynolds and Jackson go through their standard motions provides most of the pleasure in The Hitman's Bodyguard, an action comedy that tries to blast its way through the brick wall of late summer indifference.
The title pretty much tells the story. Reynolds portrays Michael Bryce, a bodyguard whose A-list career shatters when he fails to protect an important client from assassination. Reduced to second-rate protection jobs, Michael basically hangs around waiting for the plot to arrive.
The story kicks in when Jackson's Darius Kincaid turns up. Imprisoned for being a hitman with hundreds of kills, the notorious Kincaid makes a bargain with Interpol. If he testifies against a vicious Belorussian dictator (Gary Oldman), the authorities will release Kinkaid's equally lethal wife (Salma Hayek) from the Amsterdam prison where she's being detained.
At various points throughout, Hayek's Sonia is seen terrorizing her cellmate, exposing her cleavage, and trying to make up for limited screen time by contributing her own carload of profanity to the movie's "R" rating.
Elodie Yung plays Amelia Roussel, an Interpol agent, and Michael's former lover. She promises to help Michael regain his status as a high-priced bodyguard if he'll agree to escort Kincaid from prison to the Hague, where Oldman's character awaits trial for crimes against humanity.
You don't need to be a genius to know that the trip will leave many bodies strewn in its violent wake or that credibility takes an early hit.
After taking a bullet in his knee, Kincaid limps through action sequence after action sequence with the movie stopping for occasional flashbacks to explain how Kincaid met Hayak's character or how Michael developed a relationship with Yung's character.
Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) seems to buy into to the theory that all action should be edited into fragmented shards, and the incessant banter between Reynolds and Jackson provides little that would make Oscar Wilde envious.
There's not much else to say about this formula job, which never rises above genre mediocrity, but may satisfy those who find this sort of rampant destruction appealing.