There is nothing like the evidence in front of your eyes to make you doubt your own memory. I recall quite enjoying the 2017 movie The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.
It was a daft odd couple action comedy that I recall made me chuckle a decent amount. Yet Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is so teeth gratingly awful that I can only wonder if I’m the one to blame.
Reynolds returns as Michael Bryce, an executive protection officer who lost his much coveted Triple A rating certification and so is barred from using lethal force. On sabbatical, he is grabbed by Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) in order to rescue her husband Darius (Samuel L. Jackson), his former client and notoriously bad tempered assassin.
Bryce reluctantly follows (although not as reluctant as Darius turns out to be) until Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) forces them all to help him investigate dangerous Greek shipping tycoon, Aristotle (Antonio Banderas).
Let’s rule out Banderas here, who sadly is squandered yet again in a villainous role (I’m looking at you, Uncharted) and talk about what made the original film work: chemistry.
Reynolds’ schtick can be overdone if it is left to him alone but works very well when paired with an antagonistic force. It helped drive Red Notice with Dwayne Johnson and it was the sparky banter between him and Jackson that gave The Hitman’s Bodyguard its pop and fizz. So how come this doesn’t rescue the sequel?
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Official Trailer
Even though the scriptwriter for both movies has unchanged, the dialogue is so curse word heavy that at times it’s hard to make out any connecting words at all.
A well placed swear can be incredibly impactful and hilarious and a character turning the air blue can be an effective shorthand for personality assumptions. Having every single character sick up so many F’s and MF’s that there threatens to be a world shortage is just tiresome.
This goes double when the naughty words are often the beginning, middle, and end of the jokes. When Bryce hollers out an expletive in the face of danger perhaps this would be funnier if he hadn’t gone through the last 10 sentences with the exact same words anyway.
Such exhausting dialogue from all the principal cast means that any ‘banter’ between Jackson, Hayek, and Reynolds is wearily interchangeable. When everyone speaks the same way, where is the personality?
Is Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Worth Watching?
Plot isn’t often top of the list for such movies as the rhythm comes from set pieces and character beats. In the absence of these, the paper thin plot is even more apparent, especially when the threat is to all of Europe. Yup, all of it!
Every part of Europe is lumped into one category to the extent that our threat to be defeated is some hazily explained diamond-tipped drilling into the ‘European power grid’.
As Frank Grillo swaggers into a scene in self-proclaimed brash Bostonian and snorts derisively at apparent lackadaisical Europeans, one can’t help but assume that the location was selected by a dart thrown into the map from someone who has never left the shores of Uncle Sam’s land (don’t forget Banderas is supposed to be Greek in this one).
There isn’t even anything of interest in the action sequences which are all pedestrian and played out.
A movie such as this needs some unique sparkle to make it stand out, but Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a matt print scattering the light into a grey malaise the likes of which no amount of swivel eyed mania from Salma Hayek can fix.
With characters throttled by awful dialogue, action scenes that go bang with no whizz, comedy that consists of yelling every rude word in the book, and a plot that dissolves at the merest look, if someone was to try and assassinate this franchise then it would be hard pressed to find someone willing to dive in front of it and take the bullet.
Words by Mike Record