The first thought that might run through your aching head as you slog through the insipid action/comedy sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard is that Hollywood has reached a new low. The original was mindless, but at least there was a sliver of humor and an interesting chemistry between its stars. Not this time. Oh boy. The original was like Citizen Kane compared to its successor.
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s (sigh, the title alone) is not only dreadful, but deeply depressing. If this is the trajectory that Hollywood continues to take, we’re in for a long road of shallow characterization, racial stereotyping, nauseating action sequences, and flat jokes that make your drunk uncle look like a comedian. This is the movie we’d be forced to watch if the robots in The Terminator won the war against humanity.
Ryan Reynolds is back as softie bodyguard, Michael Bryce (you see, he’s undergone therapy and is taking a sabbatical from killing — ho ho ho, hilarious). He’s hired to protect Samuel L. Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, but he’s also protecting Darius’ wife, Sonia, played by Salma Hayek in full screech mode. Bryce accompanies his cohorts on a mission to take down a Greek billionaire (Antonio Banderas) who plans to utilize a deep-sea drill with a computer virus that will destroy Europe’s internet. Or something like that. If the filmmakers don’t care about the story, why should we?
Jackson looks like he’s falling asleep and collecting a paycheck at the same time, while Reynolds can’t stop mugging and chipping away at his inner goofball as if he’s sculpting the dumbest character in movie history. Hayek looks fantastic, but she exhibits the nuance of an MMA fighter. The action scenes are cartoonish to the point of futility. In fact, this movie is so noisy, you wonder what grates more, the continuous gunshots and explosions or paper-thin characters yelling at each other about absolutely nothing. Take the scene where Michael and Darius walk down a hall arguing about something, only to be interrupted by assassins who they shoot in the head with shrugging ease before continuing to bicker. It’s like the high school bully’s version of clever.
The filmmakers behind this debacle are obvious disciples of the Michael Bay school of storytelling, a doctrine that believes you shouldn’t spend any time formulating characters in fear that your audience will get bored, so you lob grenades of frenetic action scenes and tedious jokes at them until they’re numb and stupefied, or just plain stupid. Traditionally, there have been plenty of good action comedies with empathetic, full-blooded protagonists. Why has that become a lost art?
What director Patrick Hughes (returning from the first Hitman) doesn’t understand is that action sequences, taken on their own merit, are incredibly dull, unless you care about the players involved. And in this case, we don’t care at all. In fact, you hope they get caught in the crossfire so you can go home and stream something substantial. Sadly, this is why Netflix and Amazon Prime are winning the war in entertainment.
When it comes to blatantly dumb, Adderall-induced garbage like this, you can only hide behind words like “escapism” and “entertainment” for so long (if two words ever defined relativism, these would suffice). The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard isn’t just plain bad, it’s inherently cruel. These so-called “heroes” shoot people with such passivity and lack of soul, you wonder where the heroism exists. After watching God knows how many millions of dollars invested in a movie about vapid assassins and hundreds of people getting shot in the head with their brains splattered on the wall, you wonder if Hollywood should stop speaking out against the NRA and just take a cold, hard look in the mirror. ❖
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.