The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Fires Too Many Blanks
Still unable to get over the loss of his AAA bodyguard rating, courtesy of hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), at the suggestion of his therapist Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) takes a much-needed vacation at the suggestion of his therapist. No guns. No violence. And, most of all, no bodyguarding. Just peace and quiet, nothing else — and by the time Bryce returns home, he expects he’ll be free of the lingering trauma of his time spent dodging bullets with Darius.
Enter international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek), the hitman’s loving and all-too-violent wife. She forces Bryce to help her rescue Darius from a band of cutthroats. This inadvertently leads to the trio assisting Interpol in its pursuit of a mysterious international criminal bent on throwing the European Union into a financial crisis. Through it all, Bryce remains determined to not bodyguard and not kill anyone, something Darius is more than willing to make vulgar fun of at every opportunity.
I didn’t mind 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard. It wasn’t great, but the comedy-action hybrid had its moments, and Reynolds and Jackson made a decent team. But at nearly two hours, the film did try my patience, and while some of the major set pieces were impressive, others fell frustratingly flat courtesy of some egregious over-editing and a bizarre lack of focus.
Even though the film was a modest success at the box office, never in a million years would I have imagined there would be a sequel. Yet here we are, with the obnoxiously titled The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard being released into theaters today. It’s an equally idiotic action-filled monstrosity as its predecessor, wasting a star-studded supporting cast – which includes the likes of Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, Frank Grillo and Richard E. Grant – in service to a nonsensical scenario that’s as goofy as it is forgettable.
Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) returns to orchestrate all the mayhem, while Tom O’Connor (The Courier) is joined in the writers’ room by newcomers Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy. What the group has come up with is a bunch of freewheeling hogwash. Problem is, almost none of it is amusing or enjoyable hogwash.
That’s a little harsh. Yet, for all the energy and chaos, for all the constant motion that Hughes throws up on the screen, there’s precious little happening that resonates. There is a ’90s throwback aura to much of this that’s undeniable. But as far as comparisons go, this sequel feels more like Fled or Speed 2: Cruise Control than it does The Rock or Face/Off — and anyone who has sat through those first two will immediately understand that this resemblance is hardly complimentary.
There is an amusing flashback where Hayek and Banderas reignite some of that Desperado chemistry. Hughes also unleashes a violent sequence in a neon-lit dance club that’s pretty terrific. But other than that, the majority of the action sequences aren’t anything to write home about, and the climactic triptych where Bryce, Darius and Sonia all get to throwdown, each with their own adversary, is particularly disappointing.
Reynolds and Jackson still have solid chemistry, and Hayek makes a fine addition to their comic partnership, stealing scenes right out from underneath both of them anytime the opportunity is afforded to her. Banderas is having a blast, and even though I wish he had more to do, he still makes the most memorable impression. As for Freeman, I’m not commenting about him one way or the other, as his part in the proceedings shouldn’t be spoiled.
Fans of the first film might enjoy this sequel, but I’m not exactly sold on that being the case. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard didn’t do much that I’d consider worthwhile, shooting far too many blanks and frequently missing the target the few times a live round was loaded into the chamber. There’s not a lot more to add, so I’ll leave things there and call it a day.
– Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: 1½ (out of 4)