‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ is action / comedy at its best
The best action / comedies play a special role in the hearts of genre lovers. They’re usually naturally lighter in weight, but when everything clicks the result can be magical as big laughs and exciting action collide in an explosion of fun. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, from the filmmakers to the audience, not a single thing clicks in The bodyguard of the killer’s wife. A continuation of the surprise hit from 2017 The killer’s bodyguard, the new film takes elements that work moderately well at first and dries them away from anything reminiscent of humor, personality, or entertainment.
A bodyguard is nothing without its official certification, and Michael (Ryan Reynolds) is nothing after he expressed his thanks with a bullet from his old “friend” Darius (Samuel L. Jackson). Therapy doesn’t really help, but the frustrated psychiatrist makes two suggestions: Stop killing people and go on vacation. The former bodyguard follows both instructions and goes on vacation in search of rest, but neither is on the agenda for his (or our) foreseeable future. His calm is interrupted by Sonia (Salma Hayek), Darius’ wife who needs his help to save her husband from kidnappers. A reluctant Michael sets off, but soon the contentious trio is tricked into finding a Greek billionaire named Aristotle (the decidedly non-Greek Antonio Banderas) to harm the European Union in revenge for economic sanctions.
It is not an exaggeration to say that The bodyguard of the killer’s wife is one of the most aggressive studio releases in a long, long time. Even fans of the first film that I watch myself about are tested by the relentless need for sequel for volume and cruelty. The three main characters return, but none of them get a clue of the fun they delivered the first time. Add to this jokes that fall flat, an abundance of weak CG and action that can be both repetitive and instantly forgotten, and the resulting mess is an unappealing and ugly movie.
All three main actors increase elements of their characters and their own personas to unsustainable levels and then maintain them for the entire duration of the film. There’s no growth here, no nuance or depth, and instead we get annoying characters that are badly overdone for a humorous impact – only the humor never survives the process.
Reynolds keeps the snark, but plays Michael as the particularly passive Charlie Brown for most of the film. Jokes are made at his expense, he is hit by cars for the lol, the couple berates him for their amusement, and he just takes everything. It’s supposed to be funny at first glance – check out the way Reynolds is mistreated! hilarious! – but it is already tiring in the first ten minutes. Jackson’s performance is just as unanimous, but on the other end of the spectrum, as Darius utters insults and verbal attacks with devotion. He’s an idiot who’s never as entertaining as he thinks. Hayek gets the worst of it, however, as Sonia spends the movie screaming, screaming, and being just as disagreeable as her husband.
director Patrick Hughes Returns after devoting himself wholeheartedly to connecting his career to big, dumb action comedies after making his smart and much more reserved debut, red hill (2010), but it feels like his enthusiasm has greatly diminished with The bodyguard of the killer’s wife. Action sequences merge into a dull grind that only amplifies the noise of the cast’s noisy combat readiness, and not a single one of them manages to excite, surprise or entertain. In shootouts, the trio lands every bullet while hundreds of bad guys couldn’t hit the sea even from the beach, and car chases are castrated by CG and erratic editing.
The script for an action / comedy should never put the narrative in the foreground, and that’s certainly not the case here. Returned author Tom O’Connor is associated with Brandon Murphy & Phillip Murphy (This is the duo’s first produced script, but six more are currently in development) but the best their three minds can come up with is some nonsense about EMP bombs, secret coordinates in a briefcase – seriously, coordinates are just numbers, aren’t they? – and many insults. It’s just all very exhausting.
The bodyguard of the killer’s wife wasted a few other players including Richard E. Grant, Frank Grillo (who talks half of his dialogue on ADR) and apparently Gary Oldman (who is in the movie via IMDB, but I’ll be damned if I can remember him). Another revered actor appears later in the film and brings the only real laugh, but I won’t spoil this discovery for you as it feels good to giggle after an hour of silence. Only Banderas takes full advantage of his screen time to just have fun and role-play as the lightweight Bond villain, but while he’s having a great time, it’s not enough to broadcast to viewers.
This is an all-round disappointing movie, and one of the worst action / comedy sequels in years. Not that it started from similar heights, however The bodyguard of the killer’s wife is essentially the Deadly weapon 4 its respective franchise, so yes it’s bad. You can’t really blame the actors for saying yes to a paid European vacation, but you will want to.