The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard movie review: kill me quickly…

MaryAnn’s quick take: A movie to turn you off Going To The Movies, just as we are allowed to again, with its unlikeable characters, muddled action, and incomprehensible plot, all of which are magnified on the big screen.
I’m “biast” (pro): mostly like the cast
I’m “biast” (con): hated the first movie
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
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They could have just let it slip quietly onto the streaming services, where it would die the lonely death it deserves. But no: They — the big They, our corporate-industrial-entertainment overlords — are smashing The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard into cinemas, and only into cinemas. If this were an insidious plan to make you reconsider your love of Going To The Movies, to convince you that maybe watching movies at home wasn’t all that bad after all, They couldn’t have done a better job of it.

Corollary: They — the big They, our corporate-industrial-entertainment overlords — make more money when we pay $19.99 to stream a film at home, cuz they don’t have to split the takings with the multiplexes. (This is especially a bonus for modestly budgeted movies like this one, which do not need to rake in global billions to turn a tidy profit.)

Which is to say: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a movie to turn you off Going To The Movies, with its unlikeable characters, its muddled action, and its incomprehensible plot, all of which are magnified on the big screen, with your attention honor bound by public decorum not to wander off to make a cup of tea or check your email. This is an unpleasant assault on the senses in which you cannot figure out what is happening, in either the grand sense or moment to moment; why it is happening; or why you should care about any of it. And the movie would appear to consider all of these things among its virtues (of which there are, in fact, almost none).

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Ryan Reynolds
I feel this bloodied by this movie, too…

You see, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is nothing if not intent on doubling down on the unintelligible idiocy of 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard. If that first movie was lazily, perhaps even accidentally stupid, the stupidity here seems deliberate, an outright attack on the moviegoer. Oh, was hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson: Avengers: Endgame, Glass) clearly in no need of a bodyguard, and even if he was, he would not be even remotely helped by a clumsy, delusional loser of a bodyguard like Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds: Hobbs & Shaw, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu)? Fine. This time around, not only does Kincaid’s wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek: Like a Boss, Muppets Most Wanted), have absolutely no need of any bodyguard in general or Bryce in particular, she is not even in the market for a bodyguard. Sure, she needs — or thinks she needs — Bryce along to rescue Darius, who requires rescuing because of Reasons. But even she should have seen from the moment she rounded Bryce up that she would have been better off on her own.

Whatever tiny — and I do mean minuscule — sort of genre progressiveness might be found in the notion of a woman having to rescue her man is enormously overshadowed by the tremendous brainlessness of this pathetic excuse for an action comedy. (Not even the pure id-fuelled joy that is Salma Hayek here can make this work.) The ineptitude of returning director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3) makes Michael look like the height of cool, competent professionalism by contrast. Even if you, the audience in search of pure dumb escapism, are content with some big, loud car crashes and gun battles — and there’s nothing wrong with that if it floats your boat — it’s tough to imagine you being satisfied with Hughes’s disordered jumble of… stuff… thrown up onto the screen.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Samuel L. Jackson Ryan Reynolds
The film’s working title: We Got Sweet Croatian Tax Credits.

Look: Well-made cinematic action is like a ballet. It finds beauty in chaos, significance in violence. It makes you understand why its brutality is necessary, even if only in the minds of the protagonists. It grounds savagery in human experience, in human need, even if sometimes to the despair of a pacifist lefty like me, who would like to think that we monkey meatbags might finally be able to dispense with such animal ferocity. But what we get here is like a child tossing Legos around the room in frustration at not being able to build something coherent, something that looks somewhat like a house or a truck or, ahem, a movie. And yet, bizarrely, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard expects us to actually enjoy stepping on all those sharp-edged Legos strewn about the room.

The plot, such as it is, is incredibly dated, and incredibly nonsensical: something about Antonio Banderas (Finding Altamira, The 33), the most Spanish actor to grace our screens in decades, as, somehow, a Greek megalomaniac intent on getting revenge, via a bit of digital terrorism, on the EU for its economic squeeze on that small nation. That might have felt a little bit fresh five years ago, but now, not so much. And please do not ask how a hitman and his con-artist wife and their why-is-he-their-bodyguard bodyguard get caught up in this. It’s yet another doubling-down on the idiocy of the first movie’s woeful misunderstanding of what Interpol is and what it does. (The less said about poor Frank Grillo [The Purge: Election Year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier] as an Interpol agent — which is a thing that does not exist as depicted here — the better.)

Also outlandishly out of all sense of how humans understand time and biology: the running joke about a 55-year-old woman (Hayek) and a 73-year-old man (Jackson) trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. I mean, Hayek is sexy as fuck, is an outright smack in the face to our misogynist notions of what Women Of A Certain Age look like, but even she is infinitely more likely to be enduring menopausal hot flashes than worrying about — or hopeful about — getting pregnant at her age. Forget about the progressiveness of rescuing her man (who is old enough to be her father *grrr*): the progressiveness of acknowledging that a 50something woman can be hot as hell and also down to have hot, sweaty sex without worrying about getting pregnant would have been amazing to see onscreen.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard Samuel L. Jackson Ryan Reynolds Salma Hayek
Well, it’s one way to get big-name stars to appear in your movie: hold them hostage.

Men wrote this movie, of course: Tom O’Connor, Brandon Murphy, and Phillip Murphy. But unless they are complete naifs, they should have recognized that there is no universe in which the Kincaids’ relationship could possibly be played the way it is here, as “funny” only because sociopaths shouldn’t be parents, and not because there is no way in human reality that these people even could become biological parents. There is enormous comedic potential in these two particular characters, played by these two particular actors, trying to get pregnant, but it’s much more overtly farcical than what we get here. It would require smart screenwriting the likes of which are nowhere near the crude realm of what we get here.

The incredible witlessness of this movie knows no bounds. Wife reups its predecessor’s terrible, unfunny jokes — it’s not a busload of nuns here, it’s a boatload of ’em — and its predecessor’s shameless references: the score evokes Danny Elfman’s brilliant Midnight Run score again, which remains a really bad choice. (1988’s Midnight Run has yet to be equalled in the reluctant-buddy-action-comedy subgenre, and I implore you to check it out — for the first time, or the hundredth time, as I am driven to do — in order to understand how this is done.) Doubling down on stupidity is not the font of humor The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard seems to think it is.


see also:
The Hitman’s Bodyguard movie review: protection racket

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bronxbee
bronxbee
Tue, Jun 15, 2021 7:25pm

i am always and immediately turned off if a movie title has TWO possesives in a row in the title… hard to say, even in your head. makes me feel the writer’s are … not right from the beginning. not that i’ve seen the first movie, or plan to see this one. just another irritation in the repetitive process of movie making these days.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  bronxbee
Wed, Jun 16, 2021 8:50am

I bet Peter Greenaway could have come up with a better title.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Wed, Jun 16, 2021 9:10am

Ryan Reynolds has something about him which throws me out of any sort of immersion and constantly reminds me that this is an actor – like Matthew McConaughey in his romantic comedy days, who had that air of skeeviness which was nothing to do with the characters he was playing. This clearly isn’t a universal reaction, because the man still has a career, but it biases me against films that he’s in because even if they were otherwise masterpieces of production and acting there would always be that niggle.

As for the film, well, I just caught up with The Old Guard which does the cinematic action thing very well: you can always tell why each fight is happening, what each side’s objectives are, and that ties back to who they are as people (at least on the heroes’ side) rather than as avatars in the video game.

Max More
Max More
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Jun 25, 2021 11:05pm

The Old Guard was the worse movie I’ve see in years. And I say that as a fan of Greg Rucka and someone who enjoyed the comics. Maybe I should go see this. Anything with Ryan Reynolds and Salma Hayek has to be better than the thin selection currently on offer if you want to get out of the house.

amanohyo
amanohyo
Wed, Jun 16, 2021 3:38pm

Speaking of doubling down on stupidity, they’ve committed themselves to adding a possessive to every future sequel title. I’m looking forward to waking up in my Peloton Smart Deathbed and being automatically launched into the Google Omnicloud just to be force-fed the trailer for:

The Hitman’s Uber Transporter’s Father-In-Law’s Cryogenically Frozen Head’s Virtual Stunt Double’s MechMasseuse’s RoboRabbi’s Part Time Lover’s CyberCat’s iVeterinarian©’s 22nd Century Lookalike’s Procedurally Generated Therapist’s Leveraged Synebrand Cryptofinance Strategist’s Cloned Granddaughter’s Gynecologist’s Website Manager’s Imaginary Boyfriend’s Live-In Nanny’s Drug Dealer’s Favourite Dinosaur’s Japanese Mascot’s Wife’s Bodyguard

(This time they take make a hilarious pitstop in the Nun Multiverse – wacky dinosaur nun hijinks ensue)

I goes full CG in the fourth movie, they confirm the Hitman is Bi in the seventh movie, and/or he gets a sex change before the ninth. “How progressive!” you’re probably thinking, but in 2048 it’s actually an over-used nostalgic plot device in the CG anime dinosaur crime caper genre (Detective Pikachu fainlly makes it into the Criterion Collection in 2053- I know it’s criminal that it took so long, but better late than never).

Hmm, you know how saying or writing a word over and over makes it sound arbitrary and absurd? I just realized the same thing happens with punctuation. “‘s” looks really strange now. Weird.

Owen1120
Owen1120
Wed, Jun 16, 2021 6:50pm

it’s not even called “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” it’s just called “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” I don’t mean to correct you, I’m pointing out how dumb this whole movie is.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Owen1120
Thu, Jun 17, 2021 8:11am

I can’t remember what the title is in the film (which is usually what I use but I failed to notice that), but the publicists on both sides of the Atlantic are insisting that the title starts with “The.” So that’s why I’m using it.

susmart3
susmart3
Mon, Aug 09, 2021 9:29pm

I watched the first The Hitman’s Bodyguard, thinking it was the second, as I thought ‘Surely, there couldn’t be two movies with the same cast/plot? I must just be searching while tired.’

Really wanted to see Hyak, and kept waiting for her finally really enter the movie, but it was mostly just guest appearances. So, all they did was add a word to the title, and made two movies? Was Banderas in the neighborhood, and they thought, “Sure, why not?”

The double movies / double titles was a bait-and-switch, IMO. And now I’m doubly sorry.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  susmart3
Tue, Aug 10, 2021 1:21pm

I watched the first The Hitman’s Bodyguard, thinking it was the second

They’re pretty much the same movie. :-)