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‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ badly misfires

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There’s no accounting for taste – especially in Hollywood. Concepts like “good” and “bad” are mere abstracts at the highest levels of the movie business. The quality of the product itself is secondary; all that matters is the money. And when a movie makes a lot of money, there’s a good chance we’re going to get a sequel. Even if the movie in question is kind of terrible.

Hence, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

This awkwardly-titled sequel to 2017’s mediocre-at-best action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” can’t even rise to the level of the rather low bar set by its predecessor. This new offering features Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds reprising their roles as the titular hitman and bodyguard, respectively; Salma Hayek is back as well (she’s the wife). A collection of new faces appears as well, including a handful of folks who definitely should have known better.

Gotta tell you - it’s not good, folks.

That first film managed to get by on the energy of its two leads and the chemistry between them, occasionally reaching the level of store-brand “Midnight Run,” but even that sense of fun is long gone in this new entry. Instead, we get a tonally inconsistent combination of smug mugging and bloody violence that isn’t nearly as funny as it seems to think it is, presented to us alongside a confusing and borderline nonsensical plot and a bunch of rote, repetitive and generally uninteresting action sequences.

Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is still dealing with the aftermath of the events of the first film, including the loss of his AAA bodyguard certification, which is the first of many things that we’re supposed to care about but definitely don’t. On the advice of his therapist, he’s told to give up bodyguarding and to remove guns from his life. As part of this sabbatical, he heads to Italy.

Of course, it isn’t that easy.

He’s plucked from the beach by Sonia Kincaid (Hayek), who has come with explicit instructions to get his help. Her husband Darius Kincaid (Jackson) has been kidnapped by the Mafia and needs rescuing. Despite his efforts not to get involved (not to mention his firearm sabbatical), Bryce is pulled into the situation, only to learn that Darius actually didn’t want him involved and in fact still hates him.

Meanwhile, a Greek shipping billionaire with the ludicrous name of Aristotle Papadopolous (Antonio Banderas, “Dolittle”) is angry because the European Union is sanctioning Greece for some reason and so he’s come up with a convoluted plot to destroy the entire continent by putting a virus in some sort of internet box. An Interpol team, confusingly led by American agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo, “Boss Level”), is in a race against time to figure out what is going on before it is too late.

Wouldn’t you know it, he decides to enlist Bryce and the Kincaids to try and get to the bottom of it all before everything goes up in flames. Alas, their constant bickering and regular screw-ups lead to things potentially getting out of hand – will they figure themselves out before it’s too late?

Look, no one was going to mistake “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” for an Oscar film, but at least there was some fun to be had. Even that effort is absent in the sequel, though the filmmakers make a cursory effort to get some laughs, mostly through grotesque bloodshed and plentiful curse words. Instead, you’re left to puzzle through why any of what you’re seeing is happening. It stops making sense almost immediately and yet somehow manages to make even less than no sense as things progress.

Again, I don’t need an airtight narrative to enjoy an action movie – particularly an action comedy. Frankly, I’m pretty forgiving. But you have to give me SOMETHING. And this movie adamantly refuses to do so, instead doubling down on the nonsense. From conveniently placed underwater caves to eyeblink-fast cross-country travel to untenable plans of action on both sides, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” feels as though it is deliberately striving for – and achieving – utter incoherence.

And you know, even all of that could have been forgiven if the jokes were funny and the action was tight. Instead, we get repetitive gags that feel increasingly flop-sweaty and set pieces that are obvious in their CGI/stunt double heaviness. The humor isn’t funny and the action doesn’t move – not ideal for an action-comedy.

Both Reynolds and Jackson are in cruise control here, with each relying on their respective shtick. Reynolds is smug, Jackson is coarse … and that’s kind of it. Even the chemistry that kinda-sorta salvaged the first film is gone, with every cursory smirk and/or f-bomb a reminder that these dudes are just cashing checks. Hayek’s a little better, but even she has decided to go for a whisper/scream dichotomy of performance that is tough to endure for two hours. Plus, you have Antonio Banderas playing a Greek dude while making zero effort to sound like anything but Antonio Banderas. Grillo spends his scenes shouting in an approximation of a Boston accent. And then there’s Morgan Freeman. That’s right – Morgan G-D Freeman is in this movie. I’m not going to tell you why – spoilers or whatever, though maybe I should because anything that keeps you from seeing this movie would be doing you a favor – but I suppose that second beach house isn’t going to pay for itself.

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” was one of the multitude of movies whose release was postponed last year. One wishes it had hit a streaming service or VOD or something, because at least then, we all could have already forgotten it. A complete and utter misfire, one that will leave you wishing that the titular bodyguard was even worse at his job.

[1 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 June 2021 18:12

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