Review: “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”

Few movies recently have broken my brain so thoroughly as “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” that mouthful of a clumsy title being just the first indicator of how inane this film is. If you saw its 2017 predecessor, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” then you have an idea of what this action comedy is like. Ryan Reynolds is disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce. Samuel L. Jackson is cackling hitman Darius Kincaid. The pair hate each other (at least on the surface), and spend the bulk of their attempts to work together either yelling at each other or inflicting intense pain on each other (usually Michael). Salma Hayek, meanwhile, plays Darius’ unpredictable con-woman wife, Sonia.

But outside of granting you more familiarity with the nature of the relationship between Michael and Darius and Michael’s past mistakes that led him to where he’s at now, you don’t necessarily need to have seen the first film to follow “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife,” which abandons any semblance of continuity. A love interest who drove a lot of Michael’s motivation in the first movie is not here, her absence not even mentioned. And despite saving the world before, he still hasn’t been given back his bodyguarding license, and the film in fact opens with him in therapy because of it. But you moreso don’t need to have watched the first movie to follow this sequel because the sequel is almost impossible to follow anyway.

Let me try to explain to you what kind of movie “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” is. It’s a movie in which a Bostonian Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) stuck in Europe is tasked by another Interpol agent to stop a terrorist from destroying Europe’s power grid with a fancy power drill, which he decides to do by discreetly hiring Michael, Darius and Sonia to work for him. It’s a movie in which Ryan Reynolds is either violently struck by a car or thrown out of a car at least three or four different times and somehow gets up unscathed every time, on top of his character being repeatedly inflicted with all other sorts of pain in the guise of physical comedy. It’s a movie in which Antonio Banderas plays the over-the-top bad guy with a cartoonish menace. It’s a movie in which Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek hurl swears faster than bullets, to the point where that basically becomes their personality. It’s a movie in which Morgan Freeman plays Ryan Reynolds’ father, the bodyguard to end all bodyguards, who regards Michael as a stain on his legacy. It’s a movie in which Ryan Reynolds once again plays a version of the wise-cracking action hero he originated with “Deadpool.” It’s a movie that is bloody, but in the exaggerated sort of way that doesn’t require you to take it seriously. It’s a movie that contains a Richard E. Grant cameo for some reason. It’s a movie that careens from one bizarre moment to the next riding solely on the strength of the three leads’ chemistry, without even bothering to give them a script that is on par with their talents.

Samuel L. Jackson, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Ryan Reynolds in “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”

But most all, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” is a movie that is almost completely lacking in any sort of sincerity or genuine humor. I don’t watch a movie like this expecting to take it seriously, but I do expect to at least somewhat care about what is going on. But it’s hard to do that when everything in this movie is played for laughs, and the laughs often aren’t even funny. The reveal of Michael’s tragic backstory and Sonia’s subsequent attempt to console him, for instance, is too ridiculous to take seriously as the reason for why he feels like he needs to be such a good bodyguard. The film’s one fleeting sincere moment (outside of maybe when Michael confesses to Darius that he is his friend) comes from Sonia. She and Darius spend the film trying to have a baby, and when in a moment of anger that she gave him lithium as pain medication (again, what even is this movie), Michael tells her she would be a terrible mother, Sonia appears visibly hurt. But the characters aren’t permitted to live in that moment for more than two seconds, and then we are already on to the next ridiculous thing. It might actually have worked had the movie actually been funny, but outside of a few lines here and there, it really isn’t. It’s clear that the filmmakers were going for something lighter and more slapstick in tone from the previous movie, playing up the love-hate relationship between Michael and Darius while giving Sonia (who appears pretty briefly but effectively in the first film) a much larger and more integral role. Her wildly unpredictably personality—soft and motherly one moment, fiery and brash the next—is a chaotic addition to the group dynamic. But the actors constantly screaming at each other seems to have been viewed as a fine substitute for actual substantive dialogue. And Hayek’s madwoman character, who went she isn’t acting crazy is either getting derided for being too old, too Mexican, or for her inability to have children, is distractingly and frustratingly male gaze.

Patrick Hughes returned to direct this sequel, which is just as ugly and generic looking as the first film. For a movie that is set in numerous exotic locales, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” takes next to no advantage of them to give the film a dose of style. It certainly isn’t a boring movie—it held my attention solely on the basis of it being almost too stupid to be believed—but it defies logic in almost every way imaginable. Did we even need a sequel to “The Hitman’s Bodyguard?” Does anyone even remember when “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” was in theaters? I sure don’t. This isn’t entertainment, and it certainly isn’t art. It simply is.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is now playing in theaters. Runtime: 99 minutes. Rated R.

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