‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,’ a sequel to a franchise you didn’t know existed
Ryan Reynolds’s “boring is always best” personal-protection perfectionist returns in the dumb-fun romp The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a preposterous action comedy built around its starry leads and lots of sexy European locations. Want to hear gunmen yell “Buongiorno, motherfuckers!” and watch badass slo-mo walkaways from car explosions? This is the movie for you. Don’t like Reynolds, Jackson, Hayek, Banderas, or Freeman? Then keep walking, there’s nothing to see here.
Make this a two- or even one-star review if you don’t like the charismatic cast. An ultraviolent goof like this was never meant for anything but peacocking celebrities playing pop-pop bang-bang. The title should tip you off anyway that what you’re about to see is going to be convoluted at best. Subtle this is not. Reynolds plays up his beta-male schtick as the disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce, Jackson brings his testosterone-drenched id as lethal hitman Darius Kincaid, and Hayek delivers an unhinged firecracker act as Darius’ wife Sonia. Banderas pops up as vengeful Greek tycoon Aristotle Papadopoulos, and Freeman is smooth as Michael Bryce Sr., Reynold’s stepfather, a legendary 90-year-old bodyguard who talks to his anxious son with soft-spoken condescension.
THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD ★★★ (3/5 stars)
Directed by: Patrick Hughes
Written by: Tom O’Connor, Brandon Murphy, Phillip Murphy
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman
Running time: 100 mins
The premise here is the same as in the last film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard: anal-retentive Bryce, who once ran a triple-A rated executive protection agency but lost his sterling status and is thirsty to restore it, must team up with loose-cannon Darius. This time, Sonia is in the mix, and Bryce becomes more of a pratfall-prone punching bag. He saves them from mayhem, they save him from mayhem. That’s their dynamic.
As befits contemporary cinema these days, the fate of the world is at stake—or at least Europe, which helps buoy the film’s international box office. A high-intensity power surge in Greece and large-scale cyberattacks trigger Interpol to eventually uncover a plan to disrupt the continent’s enormous power grid with a diamond-tipped industrial-sized underwater drill.
The fight scenes are actually solid, with fluid choreography and intrepid stunt work. One neon-lit standout is a nightclub conflagration that also boasts a Richard E. Grant cameo. Expect lots of car chases, too, mainly featuring black Range Rovers careening down narrow cobblestoned streets and causing abundant property damage.
But we’re here for the jokes, folks. So cue Bryce’s seat-belt obsession, sparklingly snide remarks, and his pleas for “no killing, no guns, no blood” while the Kincaids shoot first and talk later. Sonia, incidentally, was a waitress at a Honduran bar when she met Darius in the last film. But here she also happens to have had a tony past with Aristotle until she accidentally fell off his mega-yacht after getting her Gucci heel stuck in its floorboards. Small world.
Gags abound, like Bryce’s devotion to pen knives as well as a traumatic flashback triggered whenever he sees gelato. Sonia meanwhile runs him over with her car and slips him a lithium roofie. She also gets one of the film’s most pungent lines, during a climactic showdown with the villain: “Don’t talk to us like that, you cheesy fuck! We’re not your bitches anymore.” It’s exhilaratingly stupid.