The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard: Review
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Synopsis: Still unlicensed and under scrutiny, Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is forced into action by Darius’s (Samuel L. Jackson) even more volatile wife Sonia (Salma Hayek). Soon, all three are in over their heads when a madman’s (Antonio Banderas ) sinister plot threatens to leave Europe in chaos.
Showcasing a refreshing hard-R action-comedy blend, The Hitman’s Bodyguard mopped up financially during the doldrums of summer 2017. It was the kind of old-school hit that we rarely see these days, relying completely upon appealing actors (Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek) and a high-concept premise to sell audiences. Few were enthralled by the film’s bizarre tonal mixture (scored a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes), but the money spoke enough to turn this throwback one-off into a potential franchise.
Nearly four years later, the same team (including director Patrick Hughes and screenwriter Tom O’Conner) returns in the convolutedly titled The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (the double apostrophe is a daunting eye-soar). Sequels typically traject down the pathway of noticeable self-improvement or mindless copying of their counterpart. With a new lean towards comedic improvisation and low-steak entertainment, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard offers the breezy summer fun desperately missing from its predecessor.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard felt stuck in an identity crisis between the film’s vulgar comedic bite and the painfully generic action mechanics that ultimately took center stage. In comparison, this sequel feels noticeably looser and more assured. Chopping off the original’s excess melodrama does wonders for the material, with O’Conner’s frenetic screenplay trajecting down a lean-and-mean pathway of shameless entertainment. Even Patrick Hughes’ direction, which suffered from blaise framing and laughably shoddy effects work, receives a much-needed face-lift with a plethora of playful new setpieces.
The star-studded cast also lets their hair down. Adding more Salma Hayek is always a winning idea, with the personable actress employing a volcanic storm of energy in every frame. She has a blast playing into Sonia’s reckless vulgar streak while still grounding the character in a semblance of humanity. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson skillfully lean into their movie-star charisma as the titular odd couple, playing to their distinct personas with a level of sly self-awareness. The trio develops a makeshift family dynamic that feels entirely genuine, propelling the rather thankless narrative forward through their sheer force of nature.
Even the noticeable improvements still can’t mask the franchise’s lingering disposability. O’Conner’s screenplay operates a bit too comfortably amidst action mechanics, lacking the type of observational edge to create a more complete and self-reflective experience (both of these films try to mock action conventions but rarely indulge in that concept). The narrative is as been-there-done-that as it gets, while several foul-mouthed gags coast more on their overt raunchiness rather than being clever. Both films in this series are the kind of slight romps destined to be forgotten mere days after viewing.
While the film dissipates quickly with viewers, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard achieves exactly what it sets to. It’s the crass and weightless summer entertainment that matinee showings are made for, improving upon its dreary predecessor while leaving the door open for an intriguing third entry.