In 2017, director Patrick Hughes brought back the old school buddy-cop genre with The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Although it didn’t wow critics, the combination of the irresistibly charismatic duo of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson and a reasonably strong character arc for Reynolds made it a winner. Now with his sequel, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Hughes ensures it does what a lot of action-comedies sequels do, that’s become bigger, louder, and more nonsensical. Instead of focusing on providing audiences with a more compelling narrative, this new instalment in the franchise focuses on giving you more Salma Hayek, more “motherf*****s,” and more dead bodies. For the most part, this approach works.
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard tells the story of Michael Bryce (Reynolds) being dragged out of his bodyguarding sabbatical by Kincaid, only this time it’s Sonia Kincaid (Hayek), the wife of Darius (Jackson). The three then become entangled in a chaotic mission to stop the Greek billionaire Aristotle Papadopolous (Antonio Banderas). The film’s opening perfectly sets up what audiences are in store for, as Michael is in an amusing therapy session that allows Reynolds to be at his witty best. His therapist advises him to step away from his work and find happiness elsewhere. Of course, that doesn’t last long, and in no time, Sonia fires (literally) onto the screen and puts Michael back into the madhouse. The film wastes little time getting to the action, and for better (and sometimes worse), the story then seemingly unfolds at 100 miles per hour.
Perhaps even more so than the original, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is essentially a vehicle for its lead actors to take turns dishing out hilarious one-liners. It relies heavily on its stars to, as Reynolds said in a promotional interview, “make a lot out of very little.” Thankfully, that’s exactly what they do. Hayek more than justifies her larger role in this sequel as she encapsulates the film’s unabashedly bonkers approach with her loud rants, which include countless uses of “motherf****r.” She effortlessly transitions from providing some of the only real emotional moments in the film to reverting back to Sonia’s crazy ways, and although some of her profanity-laced tirades aren’t highly original, Hayek’s delivery is excellent.
Reynolds seemingly plays his witty self this time around, as opposed to the character Michael Bryce, and while there are flaws with this approach, if you enjoy the Deadpool stars humour, you won’t be disappointed. More often than not, Reynolds leaves you laughing out loud, and this is highlighted by his flawless comedic timing in Morgan Freeman’s hilarious introduction scene, which sees Darius puzzled by a particular difference between Bryce and Freeman’s Michael Bryce Sr. Also, his chemistry with Jackson is still strong, despite Jackson delivering the weakest performance of the three leads.
Unfortunately, the film’s reliance on its stars and countless shots of foes being killed can only take it so far. The story itself is painfully predictable, and it’s full of all the usual tropes of an action-comedy, such as lowbrow humour involving the attractive female lead, a special machine that will destroy parts of the world, and a lacklustre James Bond-like villain. Speaking of the villain, Banderas is hardly in the film, and thus, his antagonist provides no real sense of danger, meaning audiences are never in doubt over the fate of their protagonists. Even the nostalgic visual of Banderas and Hayek coming together cannot save what feels like a waste of the Desperado star.
Unlike The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard has no real compelling character arcs. This is perfectly highlighted by them removing some of Michael Bryce’s more grounded/realistic character traits to allow Reynolds to dish out a quip every 60 seconds. Although the jokes are funny, there is no real sense of progression with any of the characters, despite the entertaining twist that comes at the end.
Plus, with the film in hyper-speed from start to finish, the film fails to allow time for audiences to emotionally invest in the characters and their struggles. Even when Hughes and co. do add some emotional scenes, it feels too forced and too fast to have any real impact. The pacing is likely an indication of the film trying to cover up its lack of depth, but considering how the momentum begins to slow down by the end, it cannot completely hide the film’s weak narrative.
In the end, despite its bland story and the fact it’s riddled with clichés like the painfully cheesy line of “The Fate of Europe is in the hands of a hitman and a bodyguard,” Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is still a ton of fun thanks it’s supremely-talented stars, entertaining action, and the countless moments that will have you belly laughing. So if you decide to watch this sequel, switch your brain off and just enjoy the ride, motherf****r.
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is in cinemas June 18.