Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021) Review

A BORING (AND UNFUNNY)

SEQUEL THAT IS ON A SABBATICAL


 

During the summer of 2017, moviegoers everywhere watched the star power of some of comedies biggest names with the release of action / comedy film The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Directed by Patrick Hughes, the movie, which starred Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Selma Hayek, followed a professional bodyguard who must protect a convicted hitman in order to testify at the International Criminal Court against a vicious dictator’s trial. While the movie was praised for the on-screen chemistry between Reynolds and Jackson, The Hitman’s Bodyguard was faced with mixed to negative reviews from both critics and moviegoers alike; citing the cliched plot, lackluster jokes, and overall execution of the movie itself. However, despite all that, the film itself did receive a somewhat modest box office running, with The Hitman’s Bodyguard receiving roughly $176 million worldwide. Perhaps it was because of this that a sequel was greenlit sometime after its initial release. Now, roughly four years after its initial release, Millennium Media and director Patrick Hughes return to the world of hitmen, bodyguard, and raunchy action shenanigans with the release of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Does this sequel outshine its predecessor or is it just another shallow attempt with stale humor or bland plot points?

THE STORY


Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is hopelessly lost, left without his precious bodyguard license after his previous madcap misadventure with one Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), turning towards a more therapeutic approach of therapy to help making sense of his life. Taking a sabbatical to relieve his stress and finding solace while on vacation, Michael’s peace is quickly shattered by the abrasive arrival of Sonia (Salma Hayek), Darius’s wild wife, who needs the man with special skills to help rescue her husband, who’s been kidnapped currently. Traveling with Sonia, Michael soon finds himself in a world of high stakes and action shootouts, hoping to stay away from the violence as much as possible due to his new pacifist of thinking. Soon, the pair is reunited with Darius, but their situation soon becomes messy as Michael and company are sent to Italy to help Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) figure out the source of a new terrorist threat, with Greek madman, Aristotle (Antonio Banderas) looking to cripple the E.U. when they threaten his homeland country with harsh economic sanctions, leading him to procure an EMP bomb. As the stakes rise to thwart Aristotle’s plans, Michael tries to find a way to ease his tension through his sticky situation as well as dealing with crazy shenanigans that both Darius and Sonia concoct on the mission.

THE GOOD / THE BAD


Personally, the success of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is quite baffling to me. On paper, the movie seems like a good idea, propelling the film with so wacky and crazy action sequences as well as the acting / star power of Reynolds, Hayek, and Jackson. However, the actual execution of it all falls flat as I found the movie to be a derivate action-comedy endeavor that really didn’t have much “substance”. In fact, everything about the movie was just mediocre at best. The action was just “meh” that had all that “been there, done that” type of shootouts and chase sequences, with little to no “wow” factor. The film’s comedy was dull and bland, with stale humor of various raunchy jokes and gags that were better utilized in other projects. The same could also be said for the main cast as I found Reynolds boring (almost generic), Hayek to be just screaming and shouting a lot, and Jackson just cussing throughout. All of which were weakly characterized in the movie and were better in some of their past projects. Heck, even Gary Oldman, who is a terrific character actor, was woefully bland in this movie. Overall, I just thought that The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a unmemorable and quite forgettable action-comedy that never really went anywhere and sort of faded into the background of the 2017 movie lineup.

This brings me back to talking about the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a 2021 action-comedy sequel to the 2017 film. As I said, first movie was pretty “meh” to me, but I was surprised to hear that a sequel was commissioned by the studio sometime after the 2017’s release. After that, I really didn’t hear much about this project until the movie’s first preview trailer appeared online a few months back. From the movie trailer alone, it looked like pretty much the same thing as the last adventure, but with the standard sequel treatment (i.e., bigger, louder, and raunchier). Given how much I particularly didn’t care for the first movie, I wasn’t too super keen on seeing the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. However, I was hoping that I would be surprised with this action-comedy sequel. So, I actually did see the movie in-theaters a week after its initial release. However, my schedule got really busy (with work and all), so I kept on pushing back doing my review for the film. That being said, I finally have some free time to give my “two cents” on the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. And what did I think of it? Well, I actually disliked it. Despite some attempts in making the movie better, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard ends up being a very derivate and lazy written (and performed) feature film that goes off its rail for cheap laughs. It’s a bombastic action-comedy that’s unoriginal, bland, and not funny…. plain and simple.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is directed by Patrick Hughes, who’s previous directed The Hitman’s Bodyguard as well as Red Hill and The Expendables 3. Given his directing talents of doing the previous film, Hughes seems like a suitable choice in helming this sequel project. Because of this, Hughes jumps right into the madcap fray of crazy shenanigans, foul-mouth jokes, and bombastic action sequences that the first movie was able to achieve. On this particular point, Hughes is quite capable; catching up viewers on where he (as a director) left the characters of Bryce, Kincaid, Sonia and up for a full-blown absurd adventure that’s staged for this sequel. In that regard, Hughes does succeed; planning another crazy escapade in this action-comedy narrative for the movie to propel forward. There’s plenty to “look and see” throughout the feature and I think Hughes does a pretty decent job in keeping the feature’s story moving at a good pace; never really feeling bloated or elongated. Thus, the film’s runtime of 100 minutes (one hours and forty minutes) does go by fast. In the end, despite the film’s many problems (more on that below), I think Hughes does try to give the film a much lighter dose of comedy for this crazy and almost “over-the-top” sequel adventure for the various character to play around in. Whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is left up to the viewer’s opinions.

In the presentation column, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard does have decent production quality towards the movie. Like a lot of action sequels, the movie itself feels like European globetrotting adventure, with many of the film’s various locations having a very distinct look to it and the international capper vibe. While the movie does falter, the production is rather good as I found all the film’s set-pieces, locations, and costumes looking appealing and fitting the part of a spy-esque action / comedy endeavor. Thus, the feature’s “behind the scenes” team, including Russell De Rozario (production design), Orlin Grozdanov, Kimberly McBeath, and Branka Radonic (set decorations), and Stephanie Collie, for their efforts to make the movie’s visual background setting appealing to look at throughout the entire movie. Lastly, the film’s score, which was done by Atli Orvarsson, is good (decent) and functional, but nothing to super race about, while the movie does select a few catch pop songs within its soundtrack.

Unfortunately, the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard does fall flat more than it hits its stride, pit falling itself into some predictable and formulaic patterns that deflate the features and creates a lot of negative criticism towards the endeavor. Perhaps the biggest one of this group would definitely have to be the whole standard pitfalls that a sequel normally traverses down. When examining this film, the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is quite derivate from start to finish, with little to no imagination put into the project and usually takes the stereotypical “bigger the danger, double laughs, and double the profits” mantra that permeates the entire feature. Like past sequel endeavors, this formula is almost the “bread and butter” for project like this, but the results are usually downright failing, with an only a few exception to this cinematic rule. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard isn’t that exception as the film just feels lackadaisical in its overall execution and technically within its shaping; finding Hughes’s direction to be “middling” on how puts everything into the film together. There’s a lot happening in the movie, but it all feels quite derivate and quite formulaic to the touch; never going “outside the lines” of what one might expect from an action-comedy endeavor. Thus, the standard beats of everything feels mundane and never feels like the feature is trying to generate something creative; languishing into R-rated mediocrity of its comedy and action counterparts. Within the action, it’s all “been there, done that” sort of feeling. The staging of everything looks large and grandiose, but never feels quite amazing and almost feels a bit generic. This also comes in the form of a lot of the “physical sight gags” that Hughes throws at the viewer’s attention. I get where he’s going with them, but none of it feels comedic gold and often feels clunky and misses their mark. Overall, I think that Hughes never quite rises the challenge of creating a sequel movie and simply chooses a weaker and thinly sketched feature that never clicks together correctly.

Looking beyond the directing, the movie’s script, which was penned by Tom O’Connor and Phillip and Brandon Murphy, also hampers the feature and shows the bland formulaic nature of the entire project. The overall story of the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is quite clunky and very predictable; never really straying away from the stereotypical formula of a sequel platform of trying to “up the ante” within its various facets of action and / or comedy. The end result is rather clunky and how everything proceeds forwards (within the script) feels mechanically broken or just simply tiresome. This also goes hand-in-hand with the film’s various characters, who are underdeveloped and only surface level descriptions, with the script broadening. Even the character dialogue moments are very poorly handled. Additionally, the comedy is also another problem for the film as it just feels too broad and generic. I actually never laughed in the movie. I might have chuckled briefly or a bit amused at certain scenes, but I actually laughed out loud, which is quite odd, especially given the three main leads acting talents that have comedic timing in their past projects. All the jokes and gags are dated and feel recycled, with most falling flat and never having that dynamic range of comedic timing. By the time the film reaches its conclusion, the whole endeavor (from its direction, script, and formulaic nature) screams sequel pitfalls as the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, for all its absurd and madcap aesthetics, feels quite tiresome and boring.

The cast in the Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is sort of mixed bag. The good is that there are plenty of recognizable faces that this action-comedy sequel selects, with returning ones as well as newcomers to the franchise. However, most of the characters that they play are woefully generic and almost parodies unto the genre that the film is trying to be like. The end result is movie that has good actors playing absurdly cartoon-ish characters that feel life-like and are just cookie cutter constructs. Perhaps the strongest in the movie (and that’s not saying much) are the three lead characters of Michael Bryce, Darius Kincaid, and Sonia Kincaid, with actors Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and actress Selma Hayek. Collectively and given their past body of work, both Reynolds, who is known for his roles in Deadpool, Buried, and The Proposal, and Jackson, who is known for his roles in Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight, and Unbreakable should be a so-called a “perfect match” in this unexpected team up sequel, the result is something that leaves much to be desire. What’s the problem? Well, as I mentioned before, the movie’s script / dialogue moments are very hollow and dry, which is completed with bland quips and crass one-liners. Thus, it then falls into the hands of the acting talents of Reynolds and Jackson and (sadly) they can only do so much with the generic story and character-built moments. Reynolds’s Michael Bryce is once again the “straight man” of the two, but seems more of a caricature of his 2017 character, playing the role safe and in a broader in scope. In truth, he’s actually the least funny of the main trio of the film, which is quite disappointing. Plus, while his character does get more fleshed out in this movie, including a backstory of his parental figures, is rather bland and tasteless; riffing on the whole idea of wanting to be a bodyguard once again.

Similarly, Jackson’s Darius’s Kincaid is still quite outlandish and more abrasive to Reynold’s Michael. It sort of works and does what Jackson does best (i.e screaming and shouting and yelling swear words and crude jokes), but the character becomes more cartoonish and absurd. That might be what the movie is trying to go for, but the end result for both of these characters hits more of a sour note. Of the three, Hayek, who is known for her roles in Frida, Desperado, and Wild Wild West, seems to be having the most fun of the trio lead characters; letting her character of Sonia Kincaid a deadly force to be reckoned with as the stereotypical “deadly Latina” archetype. I definitely was amused by her character and her performance, but only slightly as the film’s script struggles to find her actual place in the overall film. Heck, she sort of could’ve been cut from the movie and the film’s story could’ve just followed Michael and Darius in this sequel. Thus, her character is mostly played for laughs and that’s it. Overall, these main leads in the film don’t exactly land properly in the feature’s narration…. never really coming into their own and feeling a bit broader (like many sequel endeavors do); acting more like parodies from a sketch comedy show than actual characters in a comedy movie.

The other supporting players in the movie actually fare the worst of the bunch because they’re so absurdly goofy and thinly sketched that there almost to the point of being too cartoonish for such a ridiculous action-comedy to be taking seriously. This is most apparent in the character of Bobby O’Neil, a Boston-based agent working with Interpol and aiding in the events that take place in the movie. Played by actor Frank Grillo (Warrior and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), the character is goofy and bonkers to be taking remotely seriously; coming across such an obnoxious crass-talking American played in the movie. In fact, the character of O’Neil is largely played for nuance feeling and doesn’t have any real reason to be in the movie. Heck, the character could be cut from the film, and it would still make sense. I do like Grillo as an actor, but this character is so cartoon-ishly bad it’s painful. Even worse is the fact that two other side characters, Aliso, a Scottish Interpol agent who works alongside O’Neil in the movie and who is played by actress Alice McMillian (Roadkill and Outlander), and Superintendent Crowley, a senior Interpol agent and O’Neil’s boss and played by actress Caroline Goodwill (Hook and Schindler’s List), are merely played heavily underutilized in the movie and just painfully bland in the movie. This whole grouping of character is such a disappointment.

Even the film’s bad guys are bit too much slapstick villainy than trying to be a sizeable threat. This comes in the form of Aristotle Papadopoulos, a wealthy Greek shipping tycoon and who is played by actor Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) and Magnusson, a famous bodyguard savant who is employed by Aristotle Papadopoulos and who is played by actor Tom Hooper (Black Sails and Merlin). Of the two, Banderas seems to be having the fun as a throwback villain from the 90s action era of bad guy; chewing through his dialogue with glee. Even so, the character doesn’t amount too much, riddled with cliches and tropes that are typically found within a Bond villain, but totally hammy and a bit corny. Hooper’s Magnusson plays the “calm, cool, and collective” head enforcer goon for Papadopoulos, but it’s too stereotypical and, while I do like Hooper as an actor, he never makes the character his own.

Lastly, seasoned veteran actor Morgan Freeman, who is known for his roles in Se7en, Invictus, and Driving Miss Daisy, plays a supporting role in the movie as Michael’s stepfather…. Michael Bryce Sr.. While Freeman is very much a skilled actor, his involvement in this project is straight-up weird and totally awkward. Yes, he’s done goody comedy roles before like The LEGO Movie and Ted 2, but his character in this movie is just bland, off-putting, and doesn’t really gel well with the rest of the movie. Nevertheless, Freeman is okay in the movie in the role, but the character is not; becoming more of distraction in the movie than anything else.

Lastly, there is a mid-credits scene at the end of the movie. Doesn’t really do much in the way of setting up events for another installment or anything like that, but just comedic scene that plays out.

FINAL THOUGHTS


Trying to find solace in his life, Michael Bryce is pulled back into crazy and violent antics of Darius Kincaid and his wife in the movie Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. Director Patrick Hughes’s latest film takes what he established in the 2017 film and expands upon it; presenting a sequel that dials almost everything up to eleven within its bombastic nature of action and violence as well as crass jokes and gags. While the movie does try to find a rhythm medium within its various context (of which sometimes does work), the end result is something that feels tonal disappointing and messy from start to finish, especially considering the tiresome direction, the generic plot, terrible dialogue, unhumorous crass jokes, weak characters, and just bland innerworkings of the feature that feel utterly clunky and unappealing. Personally, I did not like this movie. I actually found it to be worse than the first film. The story was generic, the comedy was flat, the action was bland, and the characters were just over-the-top caricatures. I did like the chemistry that the three leads had, but the material given is relatively weak and thinly sketched. Why did this sequel get greenlit? In any case, I would definitely have to say that I would give this movie a hard “skip it” as it does little to entice viewers to catch this movie, despite the feature’s premise of reuniting Reynolds Jackson, and Hayek. I’m sure there’s talk of a third entry in this franchise, but pray to God (or whatever spiritual deity you believe in) that a third installment never comes to fruition. In the end, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is just a shallow and misguided attempt at trying to give capitalize on what made the 2017 somewhat amusing. Unfortunately, nothing about this 2021 sequel is amusing and ends up being just a poor executed and dumb sequel movie at its absurd finest….and that’s not a good thing.

2.3 Out of 5 (Skip It)

 

Released On: June 16th, 2021
Reviewed On: September 14th, 2021

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard  is 100 minutes long and is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content