‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ or ‘How Not to Do a Comedy Sequel’

Courtesy of Lionsgate

It took me until after I finished watching Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard to remember that I had seen the 2017 action-comedy film The Hitman’s Bodyguard. That’s how forgettable the first movie was. Regardless of the star power on display, I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about the first movie. It was released in late August 2017, during a time where studios tend to dump their weaker films, before Labor Day weekend. It somehow stuck around long enough to make $75 million domestically, and was apparently a bigger hit globally – a big enough hit that unfortunately, now we have a sequel to deal with.

The plot to Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is so convoluted and stupid, it would take me so long to describe it, I might shelve this review altogether. So, today, we’re using the official plot description. Plot description courtesy of Lionsgate.

The world’s most lethal odd couple — bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) — are back on another life-threatening mission. Still unlicensed and under scrutiny, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s even more volatile wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by his two most dangerous protectees, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a vengeful and powerful madman (Antonio Banderas). Joining in the fun and deadly mayhem is Morgan Freeman as… well, you’ll have to see.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is one of the worst films I’ve seen this year, and one of the most unnecessary comedy sequels I could possibly imagine. This makes The Hangover Part 3 look halfway decent. You have to really be doing something wrong to make Ryan Reynolds completely unappealing, especially working well within his sweet spot of the snarky action comedy world. Reynolds still has an inescapable charm, but it has nothing to do with the character or the screenplay, this is just who he is. And it feels like he could do some really great work with Samuel L. Jackson, but these two actors need an actual script to work with, and neither of these movies are funny at all. The possibility for all of this to work is definitely there, but the execution could not be handled more poorly.

Salma Hayek as Sonia, Jackson’s love interest, now wife, was in two scenes of the first movie, and it was widely agreed at the time she was a welcome burst of energy to a floundering mess. This second film is built almost entirely around her, and she’s loud, fiery, profane and insufferable. Hayek has proven time and time again how funny she can be, most notably on 30 Rock. When gifted with quality writing, she can kind of do anything comically. However, Sonia is definitely a better in small doses character. The shrill, screaming, swearing shtick they give her becomes tiresome very quickly.

We also have Morgan Freeman showing up in a capacity reviews aren’t spoiling, so I won’t either, but I can’t believe they got him to do this. Also, we have Antonio Banderas wasted completely as a Liberace-inspired, mustache-twirling villain who doesn’t have enough time to make an impression. They somehow also got Richard E. Grant to reprise his role from the first movie, even though this time he’s an Oscar nominee and is theoretically above this kind of thing, however he’s only in the movie for two seconds.

Patrick Hughes returns to the director’s chair and it seems like he hasn’t learned anything from his mistakes with the first film. He’s approaching this as a sequel to a movie everybody liked, which I can assure him is not the case. This feels like the kind of movie Paul Feig was parodying when he made Spy. This is an incredibly generic, laugh-free comedy devoid of any personality of its own. It did make me laugh once, but I doubt that was intentional.

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard also reeks of that Adam Sandler Netflix movie thing where you gather his group of friends, go on vacation to an exotic destination (Italy, in this case) and just make a movie around that. Nobody really seems to care about the movie they’re making, and everyone seems to know this is just 90 minutes of people shouting expletives at each other and occasionally there’s an action set piece. Also, the action looks terrible. The viewer never once cares about what happens to any of these characters, and that’s not because of the stakes or the franchise potential here, it’s simply because the viewer does not care.

Lionsgate demanded critics see Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard on the big screen, and did not send out digital screening links. It also offered moviegoers paid sneak peeks the weekend before release, a tactic used by studios to help with word of mouth for projects they’re excited about. It also kicked the incredible In the Heights out of premium IMAX and Dolby Cinema formats after only one weekend. Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is only further proof someone at Lionsgate is getting fired, after giving the dreadful Spiral the same treatment and throwing the potential sleeper comedy hit Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar on streaming. Sorry, I know this is literally the second time this week I’ve mentioned this in a review but I’m never going to get over how dirty Lionsgate did Barb and Star.

In conclusion, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard will be forgotten about as quickly as The Hitman’s Bodyguard. It’s somehow worse than its predecessor, and it’s clear they want to make more of these. It’s already being touted as a box office success, which is evident of the dystopian hellscape that currently is modern cinema. It’s a forgettable, noisy, cringe-inducing and deafeningly unfunny mess that is not worth any viewer’s time or money.

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