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Review: Everybody deserves better than the dreadful sequel ‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’

Salma Hayek wears blond hair and a leather jumpsuit in a club setting.
Salma Hayek in the movie “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”
(David Appleby / Lionsgate)

The Times is committed to reviewing theatrical film releases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because moviegoing carries risks during this time, we remind readers to follow health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials.

Back in 2017, I reviewed Patrick Hughes’ noisy buddy action-comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” and wrote, “this film should have traded the hitman’s bodyguard for his wife — she’s the most compelling character in it.” It seems they took my advice for the sequel, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” and after watching it I realize how very, very wrong I was four years ago. I’m so sorry.

The outlandish Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) is much more appealing in small doses, popping up as a bit of feminine comic relief, as she did in the first film. In the sequel, she is, of course, the wife of the hitman (Samuel L. Jackson), and indeed, with a bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) in tow, though he’s not doing much guarding of bodies. It’s apparent quite quickly that Sonia in the lead is far too much Sonia. Then again, “too much” tends to be a trend with these movies.

Hughes, and screenwriters Tom O’Connor, Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy take a more-is-more approach to everything in “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”: more explosions, more gun battles, more boob jokes, more daddy issues, more reckless rampaging around Europe. At least they’ve brought this one in at a cool 99 minutes, after the first film pushed two punishing hours for absolutely no reason at all.

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Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek and Ryan Reynolds sit with their hands behind their backs as Antonio Banderas leans in.
Samuel L. Jackson, from left, Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Ryan Reynolds in the movie “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”
(David Appleby / Lionsgate)

In this iteration, Reynold’s Michael Bryce, a sensitive soul, laments the loss of his Triple A bodyguard license after the events of the first film. At the behest of a therapist, he decamps to Capri to decompress, where he bumps into Sonia at a mass shooting, as you do. Sonia, who can only be described as sexily terrifying, slightly feral and aggressively maternal, has scooped Michael up at the request of her husband Darius. Except she misheard him, and soon the odd throuple are unhappily on the road in Italy, dodging bullets, per usual.

What overly complicated international incident have they gotten themselves into this time? It involves Antonio Banderas as a flamboyant Greek shipping magnate/terrorist, Aristotle Papadopolous, who is procuring diamond-tipped drills on the black market in order to access the data junction boxes that control Europe. When the junction boxes are infected with a virus, the electrical grid goes hooey, sowing chaos. He’s doing this as revenge for EU sanctions on Greece, or just for funsies. Who knows. Frank Grillo is also involved as an American Interpol agent from Boston (you can tell because of the “accent”) who enlists the terrible threesome of Darius, Sonia and Michael (or as Sonia calls him, “BREECE”), to intercept Aristotle.

Along the way, the trio learns to work together and to work out their own issues while engaging in many, loud shootouts and car chases through picturesque European cities. It’s the kind of action filmmaking that makes you wince and recoil, rather than gape in wonder, especially as Reynolds gets tossed around like a rag doll. It doesn’t help that Hayek, Jackson and Reynolds provide a steady stream of shrieking, swearing and smarm, respectively. But that’s what they’ve been hired to deliver, and all three are nothing less than professionals.

Some may enjoy the cacophonous, raunchy, lowest-common-denominator dreck that “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” has to offer. To those I say, Godspeed. But it’s undeniable that the actors, the audiences, and the filmmakers all deserve better.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

‘The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard’

Rated: R, for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content

Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Playing: Starts June 16 in general release


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