As I sit there in the movie theatre contemplating how lucky I am to enjoy a film in public without all the restrictions of COVID-19; within 5 minutes of the film’s start I am immediately reminded that not all trips to the theatre are the magical experience that I’d convinced myself they were in my head. It’s fine, not all films are required to provide some new take on storytelling or riveting theatrics that keeps you engaged. In my view, if the story has provided adequate brain-numbing entertainment then it has at least succeeded in some capacity. But then there’s this, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a film that provides none of the above, shocking, I know. This is a film that is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek action parody that “pokes fun at itself”; unfortunately director Patrick Hughes and the writing team holster all manner of wit and comedy in this followup to its mediocre first film, The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017). If a “loud frat bro at a party” was a movie, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard would be as close as it comes to it being manifested.
This is a loud movie, no I don’t just mean audibly, I also mean visually and tonally – a lot is happening all of the time because if it stops happening all of the time then the illusion shatters and you might just figure out that this movie is indeed, hot garbage. This film has a lot of gunfire, screaming, car chases, “jokes”, and no sign of any well-written comedy. It feels quite audacious to make a film under the impression that its star-studded cast are the only ingredient required to provide quality entertainment, but hell, you take one look at the success of the first film, and you realize that quality is not a metric these films have as a priority – simply, the only metric of importance here that this sequel could, in theory, turn a profit, and that’s good enough for most producers.
In this sequel, Ryan Reynolds screams a lot and is very emotional, additionally Salma Hayek also screams a lot and is also very emotional, then there’s Samuel L. Jackson, well, he screams a lot and that’s it. Reynolds, Hayek, and Jackson all exhibit the typical “extension of their own personalities” type of performance that falls directly in line with what you’d expect from them – do I even need to elaborate? However, Hayek is perhaps the only one who veers a little more into an offbeat territory. The least forgettable role goes to Frank Grillo as a hard-ass Interpol agent with just the right amount of comedic candor to make you wonder why you aren’t watching a movie with him in it instead. The only meaningful truth here is that Ryan Reynolds does not suit this role.
Just as the humor in this sequel felt as far away as another continent, so too is the production itself, literally. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard finds itself travelling across Europe in all manner of exotic locations for its shoots, from Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom. The location variety on display provides some genuine eye candy in rare moments, with the heavy lifting done entirely by good weather and the location itself. Where this film excels (and it feels odd to use the word “excels” in reference to this film) is in its high-octane vehicular stunts, with real vehicles crashing spectacularly in real ways. Beyond the basic “shoot-em-up” action style this film initiates, the hand-to-hand fight sequences showed perhaps the slightest glint of potential, but more often than not end up cutting away too early or simply finishing up too quickly. This film is marginally above cookie cutter from a visual perspective. The score for the film itself is also underwhelming and quite forgettable as Atli Örvarsson wasn’t able to compose a meaningful and impacting piece to help enhance the film’s most tender moments or high-octane scenes instead opting to use the generic sounds we are accustomed to hearing throughout action movies.
There’s no sign of intelligence on this barren terrestrial body. I’m not going to sink as low as to say the actors did this film so they could go on holiday in Europe, because acting can be a tough gig with long hours – but I will say this, all manner of witty intelligible writing most certainly did go on holiday, and it never came back.