Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 39 min.

Release Date: June 16th, 2021 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Patrick Hughes Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hopper, Caroline Goodall, Gabriella Wright, Alice McMillan, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Richard E. Grant

 


 

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t the AAA Executive Protection Awards in London, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) finally receives recognition for his elite endeavors. But when he’s called to the stage to receive the Bodyguard of the Year trophy, assassin and unlikely partner Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) suddenly appears in multiples, dotting the audience and even joining Bryce on the dais. Of course, it’s all just a nightmare, which the psychologically troubled and now unlicensed bodyguard relates to his therapist. “Find happiness within,” the shrink suggests before hastily ushering him out, fed up with Michael’s obsession with reacquiring his license. Perhaps a vacation in Capri will be enough to calm his nerves and clear his mind.

Unfortunately for Bryce, that momentary reverie in paradise is rudely interrupted by Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek), Darius’ wife, who yanks the protector away from gangster gunfire to recruit him to help rescue Darius from a former associate seeking revenge. And that little episode isn’t the end of it; instead, it’s just the beginning, as the European Union’s recent imposition of fresh sanctions against Greece have fueled the ire of rebellious billionaire Aristotle Papadopolous (Antonio Banderas), who plans to use a Croatian computer virus against power grids to murder millions of people, returning Greece to the center of civilization. And Interpol’s only hope is to use Michael, Darius, and Sonia to foil the evil mastermind’s machinations.

“Your mouth needs an exorcism.” Once again, extreme violence clashes with continual comedy, resulting in a strange vacillation between flinches and laughs. Although the death and destruction are hardly convincing, it’s nevertheless an entertainment hurdle to alternate between gruesome bloodshed and verbal levity. Fortunately, Hayek gets to shoot weapons, kill people, and curse incessantly, all while Reynolds reprises his role as the overly sensitive, perpetually bloodied and bruised, butt-of-every-joke dupe, marking a superior, funnier contrast to Jackson’s prior partnership. It’s far from original, but here the road-trip blunders and crass denigrations work better than before. Following along with the template of “Lethal Weapon,” the polar-opposite pairing has added an extra comic relief persona, increasing the hilariousness over the excitement.

This is ultimately for the best; the globetrotting and world-domination plot, appearing as a derivation of the James Bond formula, doesn’t amount to much. As every minute passes, the premise grows less and less important; the purpose is essentially to offer up the repetition of playful ridicule, a guns-blazing chase sequence, and then a few more jokes. The stunts and action choreography this time around have suffered (so too has the tech), feeling considerably less realistic and inventive, now regularly aggrandized by nonsensical explosions to level out any notable focus on witty repartee. Even the obligatory torture scene is designed for chuckles rather than tension; the film’s efforts to be fun-loving and light-hearted are simply more effective than depressing high spirits with pointlessly excessive barbarity.

“My god, they’re amateurs.” Sticking to the notion of bumbling antiheroes accidentally surviving and succeeding, this faithful follow-up plays marginally stronger than its 2017 predecessor, though the length is unforgivable and the repetition is substantial. There’s a lot of frenetic movement but scant reasoning, doing its best to lose interest during fantastical action sequences, only to possibly regain it with punchy one-liners. A dull villain consisting of plain grimaces, monotone threats, and garish suits; invincible protagonists; too many moments to count in which a henchperson gloats with a phrase like “time to die,” only to stall actually offing the hero; and overbearing flashbacks compose a long list of problems. Yet the rambunctious relationships heaped with silly cynicism pose a reasonably enjoyable – and likely forgettable – piece of filmmaking.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10