‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ review: Ryan Reynolds’ assassin comedy misses the target completely

Would someone pull the trigger on this creatively bankrupt crime caper?

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    Despite being formulaic and forgettable, The Hitman’s Bodyguard did decent business in 2017, so the arrival of a sequel doesn’t entirely defy logic. There’s also some sense in giving the would-be franchise extra lustre by chucking in Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas with returning cast members Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek. Sadly, almost everything else about this botched action-comedy romp is beyond belief.

    It begins with wise-cracking bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) stripped of his licence, in therapy and agreeing to take a sabbatical. Events from the first film are to blame, but the sequel wisely decides we don’t need a full recap. Anyway, about 30 seconds into his Italian beach holiday, Bryce is set upon by conwoman Sonia Kincaid (Hayek) and strong-armed into helping her rescue Darius Kincaid (Jackson), her hitman husband, from the mob. Once hitman, wife and bodyguard are reunited, they’re enlisted by Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) to stop megalomaniac Greek billionaire Aristotle Papadopolous (Banderas) from destroying the EU. It’s completely ludicrous, but just try not to feel a pang when you spot that Papadopolous’ map of destruction still includes the UK.

    The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
    The hitman, and the bodyguard. CREDIT: Lionsgate

    In all honesty, there’s no point investing in a succession of cobbled-together and nonsensical plot developments that lead to a climax on – where else? – a luxury yacht. At one point, the film nicks the amnesia premise from classic Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn romcom Overboard, then makes fun of itself for doing so. Along the way, Richard E. Grant and Gary Oldman briefly and pointlessly reprise their roles from the first film, while Freeman gives his new character more dignity than he deserves. As Bryce’s imposing stepfather, a fellow bodyguard, he almost convinces you that octogenarians can have skin in the close personal protection game too. Though Banderas doesn’t bother attempting a Greek accent, he does commit fully to glowering in dimly lit rooms. Because that’s how megalomaniac billionaires spend their time, right?

    Director Patrick Hughes, who also steered the first film, makes the most of glamorous European locations that aren’t quite enough to disguise the budget CGI. For an action-comedy film, the action sequences are pretty shonky. Then again, comedy isn’t exactly a strong suit either, mainly because the screenplay seems to offer at least 10 laboured F-bombs for each flash of genuine wit. When Bryce quips that Banderas’s dandyish baddie is dressed “like Liberace fucked a pair of curtains”, it’s one of the few bullseye zingers.

    Thankfully, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard has a couple of saving graces. Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek bounce off each other well enough, especially when you’ve tuned into Hayek’s increasingly manic frequency. Meanwhile, Hughes keeps the wobbly plot moving along at such a brisk pace that the whole thing is wrapped up in 90-ish minutes. For this reason, if you’re really keen to get back to the cinema, it might just make a passable popcorn flick.

    Details

    • Director: Patrick Hughes
    • Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson
    • Release date: June 18 (UK cinemas)
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