If you could obtain a copy of the screenplay for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, I bet you’d discover that it was typed in ALL CAPS, with every sentence ending in a row of exclamation points. Pure speculation on my part, but I’d also wager that it was typed on bright purple paper just to make sure your eyes as well as your ears were assaulted by its blaring aesthetic volume. My point is, there isn’t a single line of dialogue that isn’t delivered at maximum volume because that’s what passes for comedy in this glaringly awful sequel to the 2017 hit(?) The Hitman’s Bodyguard, in which co-leads Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson yell at each other for the duration of the movie…I’m sensing a trend here.
Reynolds once again plays Michael Bryce, a AAA-rated bodyguard, who is still suffering from the emotional torment of losing a client in the first film. We know this because he’s seeing a therapist who advises him to take some time off from even thinking about protecting others and concentrate on comforting himself by going on vacation. While relaxing at a peaceful resort in Capri, Michael finds himself caught in the middle of a firefight involving Sonia (Salma Hayek), the wife of Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), the titular Hitman of both films, whom Michael was forced to protect in the first film—the only gig he could get after having his AAA license suspended. Sonia was the one in need of rescue in the first film, and now it’s Darius who is apparently being held captive.
Between the bickering among the three primary characters, the gunplay, and Michael’s annoying refusal to kill anyone (or even hold a weapon), the three eventually end up in the hands of Interpol, being forced by Frank Grillo’s Agent Bobby to find technology in the possession of Greek tycoon Aristotle (Antonio Banderas, harkening back to the old-school acting belief that a vaguely European accent was good enough) that could potentially plummet all of Europe into total blackout, as revenge for sanctions against Greece. Like any of this shit matters. It turns out that Aristotle and Sonia had a thing years earlier, and I won’t lie, the idea of a Hayek and Banderas onscreen reunion was one of the only reasons I was excited about this movie in the slightest. Needless to say the moment was largely disappointing.
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a travesty at every level. It fares best as an action movie, but that isn’t saying much; it’s weirdly excessively bloody and brutal, which normally doesn’t phase me, but here it seems like pandering. As a comedy, it’s laugh-free, with Jackson tossing in dozens of extraneous four-letter words because the writers and he think it’s what audiences want/expect, which is never a good reason to include anything anywhere. Again, bad language doesn’t bother me, except when it feels like it’s being used as a crutch because the rest of the jokes simply aren’t landing.
Does anything work? Well, I have to admit I got a few chuckles at how utterly tone deaf the Aristotle character is, and it’s entirely possible/likely that Banderas knew it too and overplays it as appropriately as it’s written. Also popping in for a few unexpected moments is Morgan Freeman as Bryce’s top-notch bodyguard father (adopted, Michael quickly adds), who appears supportive but turns out to be deeply ashamed of the turn his son’s career has taken. He also swears a lot, so it’s funny, right?
The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife is aggressively abrasive and uncompromising in its determination to not be funny. There was a time when I used to think Reynolds could be funny (or at least likable) under any circumstances, but this film proves that theory beyond incorrect. As is often the case Hayek and Jackson are usually only as good as the material they’re given, and this is about as bad as it gets. Returning director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) hasn’t bothered to improve the formula, although I am happy to see Hayek get equal screen time to her male counterparts. It’s clear she’s at least attempting something energetic and funny, as opposed to Reynolds and Jackson who are doing acting’s equivalent to painting by numbers, devotedly inside the lines. This one is not worth leaving the house to see.
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