CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hopper, Kristofer Kamiyasu, Gabriella Wright, Dragan Mićanović
RUNNING TIME: 99 mins
BASICALLY…: Former bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is unexpectedly reunited with hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) and his equally-dangerous wife Sonia (Hayek)…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Although it turned out to be a surprise box office hit, grossing $176 million worldwide against a $30 million budget, The Hitman’s Bodyguard quickly faded from people’s memories. Aside from it not being that great of a movie to begin with, the Ryan Reynolds-Samuel L. Jackson buddy action-comedy did very little to distinguish itself from the competition, and even four years after its release hardly anybody can tell you what happens in that movie, other than Reynolds and Jackson spending the entire movie basically screaming at each other.
The sequel, though – awkwardly titled The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – is more likely to be remembered than its predecessor for one very good reason: it’s a textbook example of how NOT to do a bigger, much more over-the-top action sequel to an already mediocre movie, since it is so chaotic and jarring in how dumb it is that it’s difficult to even comprehend how bad it really is.
If you were to ask me what the plot of this movie was… I honestly don’t know. I have seen this movie all the way through, and I still cannot tell you what this movie is about, because it cuts so frequently to other things within seconds that to call it unfocused would be an insult to the very definition of the word “focus”. The absolute basics, though, are that Ryan Reynolds’ Michael Bryce – a former highly-certified bodyguard who has since lost his licence after protecting Samuel L. Jackson’s criminal hitman Darius Kincaid – is on a self-imposed sabbatical from bodyguarding in order to clear his head of any and all past trauma. His peace is short-lived, of course, when Kincaid’s manic wife Sonia (Salma Hayek, in a much larger role after her extended cameo in the previous movie) suddenly shows up to whisk Michael away to help rescue Kincaid from his latest captors.
From there, it’s an absolute tailspin of one plot after another, all heading down in the same direction. First, it’s about rescuing Kincaid from gangsters, then minutes later Frank Grillo shows up as an Interpol agent who wants all three of them to participate in a sting, and then there’s something about a briefcase, a wrist-bomb, a diamond-encrusted drill, and backstories that seem eerily similar to the movie Overboard. That’s even before mentioning that the main villain of the film is Antonio Banderas as a Greek mafioso named Aristotle Papadopoulos, who wants to control Europe after the EU places further economic sanctions on Greece. Oh, and Morgan Freeman shows up at one point (admittedly giving way more of a lively performance than in Vanquish) to feature in the film’s only legitimately funny sequence.
I’m probably making all of this sound far less chaotic than it is, but believe me when I say that actually watching it is a lot more difficult than simply reading about it. The movie has such a fast-forward approach to its editing and overall tone that you’ll feel like there have been at least fifty scenes before we even reach the five-minute mark, and it barely gives you any time to breathe or even absorb anything that’s happening so that it makes sure you’re extra-lost, as well as unable to piece together this wildly convoluted string of plots before it’s suddenly moving on to the next big action sequence. It’s a terribly directed film, with Patrick Hughes once again making most of the action scenes hard to comprehend, because they’re so marred by jolty camera-work and rapid-cut editing that you can barely tell what’s going on, let alone who’s even being shot or hit, and he directs his charismatic actors to do nothing except scream endlessly – occasionally right into the camera at the end of some scenes – and hope that passes as comedy, because the vast majority of dialogue doesn’t exactly (pardon the phrase) scream laugh-out-loud funny.
You can tell that the overall objective with The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard was to go fully over-the-top in a not dissimilar way that the first one did; however, as forgettable as the first movie was, it at least seemed grounded enough in its own world to pass as something, even if it was incredibly mediocre. The ground doesn’t even exist in this film, because right off the bat we’re supposed to buy Antonio Banderas as a Greek power-player (who still somehow can’t seem to shed his native Spanish accent), who’s got an evil plot that’s straight out of not a James Bond movie, but a parody of a James Bond movie like Austin Powers, although even those films were funnier and more focused than The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is, and things don’t get any more realistic from there. Again, though, I know that the point is to be this ridiculous action-comedy sequel, but by the time where Ryan Reynolds survives being hit by a car for the second time in a row, it reaches a point where you realise that the writers and the filmmakers simply don’t care about the intelligence or the attention-span of its audience, so there’s no reason for the viewer to care either. There is, after all, such a thing as going so far over-the-top that you can no longer see where you originally climbed from.
For all the negative things I vaguely remember saying about the first movie, this sequel is so much worse. It makes even watching talented actors like Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek conversing with each other a mind-numbing chore, because it wastes them on incoherent direction, personality-free dialogue and completely chaotic plotting that doesn’t make a lick of sense, even within its own over-the-top context. If it’s an all-out action movie you’re after, then for the love of God please check out Nobody instead of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; that movie will give you everything that this movie wants to, except it doesn’t have to insult your intelligence to do so.
SO, TO SUM UP…
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a textbook example of how not to do an over-the-top action-comedy sequel, for it completely wastes any and all potential, including its talented cast, with incoherent and unfocused direction, extremely dumb and chaotic writing that often fails to generate any legitimate laughter, and a general lack of respect for the intelligence and attention-span of its audience.