The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
WHERE TO WATCH:
Now showing in cinemas
WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
The sequel to The Hitman's Bodyguard once again finds our now disgraced bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), thrust together with master assassin, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson), after Kincaid's wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), enlists Bryce aid to help rescue her husband from a notorious mobster. This is only the beginning, though, of an adventure through Italy as the trio somehow find themselves the last and only real hope against a deadly conspiracy to take down Europe's digital infrastructure.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
I'm not entirely sure anyone was asking for a sequel to the Hitman's Bodyguard. It was a fun, stupid and instantly forgettable little action comedy with some A-list stars but one that hardly called for any sort of expansion. Frankly, it was long enough as it was. Even I, who – and I went back to my original review to double-check this – liked the film a lot more than most critics and many audiences, had mostly forgotten about it and was caught completely unawares when I came across the first bit of promotion for its sequel.
Unsurprisingly, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard has been kicked all over town by the vast, vast majority of critics. And not undeservedly. It is, by any objective measure, an awful, awful film on too many levels to count. And yet, once again, I find myself defending it – albeit not as much as its predecessor – from its harshest critics.
This is not to say that I disagree with them about the film's very obvious failings. It does contain some of the most badly filmed and edited action scenes you could hope to find on a big-budget action film. The comedy, which mostly consists of Salma Hayak swearing the roof off the place and Sam Jackson and Ryan Reynolds bickering, falls very flat, something like eight times out of ten. Aside for Reynolds' neurotic, fast-talking bodyguard-on-sabbatical ("I'm on sabbatical" is basically this film's "I'm not even supposed to be here today"), the other characters in the films are all fairly loathsome. It has an A-list cast with some cameos from some very acclaimed Hollywood royalty, but they're clearly just there to goof off and make some money while holidaying in Europe and are almost definitely having way more fun than the audience. It is also stupid on an almost unparalleled level.
It is, however, that final point that somewhat – if only somewhat – saves the film for me. The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is so brain-pulverisingly stupid that I started to have some perverse sense of fun with it as it went along. While nothing on earth could save the atrocious, incomprehensible, headache-inducing action scenes, the sheer, unapologetic daftness of everything about the film is weirdly infectious. Was it the intention of director Patrick Hughes and screenwriters Tom O'Connor and Brandon Murphy (the first two of which return from the first film) to make something that audiences are supposed to laugh at, or are they just incompetent? Who knows. Either way, I can't say I wasn't at least moderately entertained.
The plot itself obviously matters, not a jot – and I'm pretty sure it makes no sense whatsoever – but fair is fair; there is at least some character development here. The psycho Kincaids are trying to have a baby, while Bryce has his own parenting issues to deal with in the form of his ace-bodyguard step-father, played with gleeful relish by Morgan Freeman, on whose approval Bryce has made every one of his life decisions. There's also the running motif of that sabbatical that Bryce is taking on the strict orders of his (ex-) therapist as he tries to work out his issues around his work and the events of the previous film.
Though "character development" is probably a bit of a stretch as it is all, basically, played for laughs. Vacuous doesn't even begin to cover it. Do most of those laughs land? Not even close. And yet, there is something about the cumulative effect of just how unapologetically vacuous, how empty, how dumb it all is (the resolution to the Kincaids' storyline is obvious from about halfway through the film, but the sheer daftness of it is still surprising) that didn't so much win me over as wear me down.
The constant squabbling between Sam Jackson and Ryan Reynolds may also fail hopelessly to match classics like Midnight Run or 48 Hours (the dialogue is as bad as everything else in the movie), but the main actors do still play well off one another, in spite of how much the script and their characters fail them.
The biggest laughs by far, though, come from Reynolds playing a character that is even more indestructible than Deadpool and getting the ever-loving snot beaten out of him so ferociously and so consistently that any real person would be very dead long before the end of the first act. Reynolds' gameness turns what is basically far-fetched nonsense into what is basically an R-rated Looney Tunes cartoon, and there is some undeniable (to me at least) fun in that.
Does any of this mean that I actually recommend The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard? No, not really. Certainly, in terms of buddy comedies about hitmen and/or bodyguards, I can't see why you would go for this over yet another viewing of Grosse Pointe Blank, Deadpool, or Midnight Run. The one advantage that it does have, though, is that it is at least being shown in cinemas, and there really aren't any other movies of its kind to compete with in that environment at this point in time.
If you are keen for an action-comedy and you're keen and comfortable with going to the movies during the current third wave of Covid-19, you might as well check it out. Otherwise, I really wouldn't bother.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: