Well, I certainly didn’t see this coming…
The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a pleasantly ok action comedy that surfaced in 2017 that combined extreme violence with the many creative, swears that loudly launched from the mouths of the bickering team of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson who played bodyguard and hitman respectively. While it was admittedly standard throwaway fun, it was also one of those movies that, upon hearing news that it’s been sequelized would make you go both “Yeah, makes sense” and “Really, that movie?” in equal measure.
However, after viewing said sequel I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised because if the first movie had an issue, it was that it’s balancing act between it’s more serious aspects and it’s comedy where noticably off – however, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard goes the innovative route of fixing this by actively making it much, much worse.
After the events of the first movie, sensitive bodyguard Michael Bryce is still massively traumatised by the loss of his AAA rated bodyguard licence and is pouring his dump truck sized amount of anxieties onto a long suffering therapist. Desperate to get him out of the door, she suggests that he forgets about bodyguarding for a while and simply try and reconnect with himself on vacation in Capri (like the pants), but as Bryce finally starts to relax and manages to halt that whirling maelstrom of a brain of his, who should enter his life in a hail of bullets by Sonia Kincaid, the massively volatile wife of the man who inadvertently cost Bryce his licence in the first place. It seems that Darius is being held by the mob and before being captured, Sonia mistakenly heard him say to get Michael Bryce when in fact nothing could be further than the truth.
After typically shooting their way out (except for Bryce who uses pepper spray because he’s on sabbatical) the three are cornered by a pissy Interpol agent who ropes them into a deal where they have to stick their noses into the business of wealthy, Greek lunatic, Aristotle Papadopoulos who is concocting a ridiculous plan to halt further sanctions on Greece by the European Union by destroying it’s entire power supply with a massive, diamond tipped drill.
And so another mismatched road movie kicks into gear with an increasingly distressed Bryce now horribly outnumbered by his violent, foul mouthed companions who will be forced to confront their repeated and vigorous attempts to start a family, not to mention a visit to his overbearing father. Can this bickering duo possibly hope to get along with a civil nature for even five fucking minutes let alone save all of Europe?
While I understand that this film hasn’t been doing particularly well with other reviewers (for reasons I totally understand), for some odd reason I totally warmed up to this incredibly stupid movie right away. Maybe it’s because my fix of cinematic action has been notoriously low thanks to the devastating effect of COVID-19 had on cinema releases, or maybe it’s because the first movie had already done all the hard work so this film could literally start while being turned all the way up to eleven, but whatever it was, it bloody well seemed to work on me.
Essentially an incredibly idiotic exercise in obnoxious excess and cartoon logic, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Wikipedia and Google insists a “The” goes in front of the title while the poster and movie itself says otherwise) is as coherent and grounded as Jason Statham’s Crank movies that seems to think the key to inducing hilarity is to just have it’s actors swear more and louder while frequently hurling loud, splattery headshots at you at random times. It shouldn’t work – like, at all, and yet for it’s unsurprisingly long feeling runtime (it only clocks in a 100 minutes but feels easily twice that) I sat there quite contentedly, laughing loudly at all the exaggerated carnage.
The main plus the film has is that it puts Ryan Reynolds through the kind of extreme physical and mental abuse usually reserved for the likes of Bruce Campbell or Wile E. Coyote. Retconing his supposedly cured perfectionist into more of a damaged foil than ever, he’s constantly being flung through the air by a shotgun bast, launched through car windows after finally neglecting his own seatbelt rule or being fed Lithium in the mistaken belief that it’s a painkiller.
Causing a fair amount of that pain is Salma Hayak who, what with this and the upcoming Eternals for Marvel, seems to be making quite the comeback but when I first heard the news that the former Santanio Pandemonium’s deliberately obnoxious cameo from the first film was getting vastly expanded, I’ll admit I sucked some air in through my clenched teeth; and yet somehow (and I realise that, again, I may be in the minority here) I found the phenomenally vile Sonia oddly refreshing as she matter-of-factly discusses the problems with her “pussy pipe” in front of a boat full of nuns. If there’s any real issue about Hayek’s expanded screen time and Reynolds ramped up self loathing, it’s that Samuel L. Jackson’s Darius is now playing straight man to Bryce’s endless mental breakdown and Sonia’s apocalyptic vocabulary – but if he signed on just so he could keep agressingly make out with Hayek and shoot goons in the face, then I guess he got what he came for…
Joining Hayek and therefoe making this a long awaited Desperado reunion is an epically camp Antonio Banderas as the villian who curiously chooses to play Greek while using his Puss In Boots purr, wearing a full pompadour wig and wearing upsetting suits that Bryce claims that he looks like “Liberace fucked a curtain”. It’s great to see him having fun but his overarching plot that sees the film use Greece’s real world monetary woes to kick of a ludicrous burst of super villainy is a move that not even a Kingsman movie would touch, let alone a Bond movie – and yet even this somehow only adds to the enjoyable unrealism.
If you’re the kind of moviegoer that insists that characters act, talk and behave like actual human beings and that it’s important that screen violence shows the causality of it’s actions then you may well be doing yourself a favour steering well clear of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard in favour of something more down to earth and realistic – like the next Fast And Furious movie, maybe (wink) – but for undemanding thrills and more uncontrollable swearing than a Glaswegian wake, it’s a surprisingly fun trip.