The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard

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The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard reminded me of The Cannonball Run II. Both are unnecessary sequels to movies that weren't particularly good in the first place. The Cannonball Run II is also famous for not really being much of a movie. It feels like a bunch of stars took a vacation together, filmed themselves goofing off for a few hours a day, then released the result to the public. The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard has the exact same tossed-off vibe. The stars look like they're having fun making it, yet watching the picture isn't fun at all because it's clear no one was really putting in a lot of effort.

This follow-up to The Hitman's Bodyguard finds Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) taking advice from his therapist and going on a vacation that involves no violence or guns. That vacation is interrupted when Sonia Kinkaid (Salma Hayek) shows up unexpectedly, a gang of armed goons chasing her. Sonia's husband Darius (Samuel L. Jackson) has been kidnapped and needs rescued. Bryce really doesn't want to get in the middle of it, but there would be no movie if he didn't, so, you know.

Once they locate Darius, the trio works to foil a madman named Aristotle Papadopolous (Antonio Banderas) with a plan to restore Greece's status in the world. (Don't ask – it doesn't make sense, nor does it matter in the long run.) He also has his eye on Sonia, hence the need for a bodyguard. The plot jumps around from country to country, almost at random. In fact, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard must set some kind of world record for the number of on-screen titles telling viewers what location a scene is set in. None of it makes a lick of difference because Aristotle's scheme is a great big Who Cares? to begin with.

Two elements make up the picture: bloody violence and slapstick comedy. That mixture can work if a movie does both well. The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard does neither well. Director Patrick Hughes doesn't seem to know how to pace anything. Action scenes are a rapidly-edited mess, and that occasionally makes it hard to tell what's going on. For such sequences to work, the audience needs time to understand the geography of where the action is taking place, as well as what the stakes are. Hughes rushes through all that, leaving muddled mayhem that isn't the least bit exciting.

On the humor end, the lack of pacing leads to the movie stepping on its own jokes. The ones that are obviously scripted barely have a set-up before the punchline drops – an approach that guarantees a lack of laughter. Too many scenes, meanwhile, clearly have an excess of ad-libbing. They go on too long, or are so silly that they clash with the tone of the violence. Reynolds tries to bring the off-the-cuff wisecracking vibe to Michael Bryce that he did to Deadpool. Despite his valiant effort, his improvs are so out of place that most of them land with a thud.

Of course, any movie that thinks it's funny to cast Morgan Freeman in a small role as Michael's father is already pretty creaky on the humor count. (How old is that gag anyway?) With lame action and comedy bits that seem to come in from left field, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard feels thrown together, as though everyone came to set and made the whole thing up on the spot. The only fun element in this whole film is Salma Hayek. Listening to her curse up blue streaks that make Samuel L. Jackson look like Mr. Rogers is amusing. By the end, I was ready to start cursing too. Seeing so many great actors wasted in such a pointless, idiotic project is enough to make anyone angry.

out of four

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content. The running time is 1 hour and 39 minutes.