‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ Review — A Lackluster Action Comedy
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is that guy who shows up to college parties who’s always making subpar jokes and is always “on,” and while you don’t have a bad time with him, you want him to go screw himself.
This lackluster action-comedy comes to us from Patrick Hughes, the director of The Expendables 3 and the first movie in this series, The Hitman’s Bodyguard. This sequel once again stars Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson as Michael Bryce and Darius Kincaid, two mismatched heroes who have to save the world with Darius’s wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek).
Nobody is really talking about The Hitman’s Bodyguard anymore. People may have a vague memory of Reynolds and Jackson teaming up in a buddy cop movie a few years back, but that first movie generally wasn’t good enough to recommend. And yet, we’re getting a sequel that nobody is too excited about, but it is here.
This film has a few things going for it—you can see how it’s trying to be bigger and louder than the original, doing everything it can to top the original. In addition, we have more star power here from Frank Grillo, Antonio Banderas, and another iconic actor whose unexpected introductory scene is easily the best part of the film.
We also have Hayek back in this movie in an expanded role from the first film. It’s an interesting idea to have her thrown into the dynamic right between Bryce and Darius, but the problem is how unlikable Sonia’s character is. Every bit of this character is so over-the-top, and it’s hard to sympathize with her no matter how hard this movie tries to get you to do so.
Much like the first film, this movie relies on its A-list stars to entertain you rather than actually providing a good story. The film's plot with a villain who wants to take over the world by uploading a virus is so ’90s cliché that it hurts, and his motivations are ridiculously weak.
At the very least, this movie knows what it’s doing for the most part. It’s an action-comedy, so of course, you’re gonna get action and comedy. Unfortunately, none of it is very good. Hughes tends to frame his action sequences in odd close-ups that can be hard to look at.
The gunfire, chases, and explosions are all fun to watch at the moment, but they don’t stick with you long after the credits roll. They have a few too many cuts and shaky cam, and Hughes doesn’t helm the film with a unique style that makes the movie fun to watch.
What about the comedy? Reynolds and Jackson are two talented comedic actors, and they are doing a lot more of their same old schtick here. Reynolds is cracking cynical one-liners, and Jackson is screeching with laughter and yelling “motherfucker” every few minutes. There are a few funny moments, but as far as comedies go, this movie falls short on the laughs.
Nobody else in the movie seems to know what they’re doing. Hayek shouts a lot and references her breasts from time to time. Banderas is playing a villain without enough screentime to have any threatening presence in the film. And Grillo’s action hero talents which we saw earlier this year in the fun time-loop action film, Boss Level, are wasted in this paycheck role.
As referenced earlier, this movie is trying really hard to be funny at every turn. But the film lacks any nuance as a result. For example, we have a subplot where we learn Bryce’s mother died when he was very young, and he blames himself for it, and there are triggers that send him back to that moment.
These are very compelling ideas that could have allowed us to sympathize with Bryce, but the execution of the idea is so absurd that it almost feels like a sick joke that we’re not sure if we’re supposed to be laughing at. Every time the movie looks like it’s about to go somewhere interesting with the characters, it veers right and resorts to a gag.
By the end of the film, you’re left not caring. You can see how this movie could have been better with another rewrite to the script and more assured direction. It’s an intentionally absurd film in every sense of the word, and while you can turn your brain off and put this on in the background as you do your chores, it wastes its potential.
The editing of certain sequences can be quite awful, with strange moments and action scenes cut to pieces. There are subplots that we don’t care about because they’re all undercut by the film’s undying devotion to maintaining a lighthearted comedic tone.
It’s a movie with many half-baked ideas that are just thrown at the screen with no real effort. While the movie desperately wants to entertain you, it doesn’t have a style or anything to say that would make the film worth watching a second time, despite the star power on display.
Complete with a title that doesn’t roll off the tongue, this action-comedy sequel misses the mark.
Grade: ★★☆☆☆ [4/10, C-]
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is now playing in theaters.