Sequels are supposed to take things to the next level by capitalizing on what you loved so much about the original movie and expanding into new areas. When The Hitman’s Bodyguard came out, the film smartly took advantage of the lead actors’ familiar personalities and threw them together into outrageous situations. With a sequel set to arrive this summer, I had high hopes for more of the fun of the first film with some new elements. Sadly, this outing doesn’t live up to its own reputation. Perhaps some of the misfires come from the film company not even able to get the title right. Does it contain a “The” or not? (Press materials like posters and the film itself do not, but the official Web site does.) Although there are some surprises and great moments, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard fails to deliver a solid hit and instead sprays jokes like bullets everywhere to see which ones reach their targets.
After the events of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) no longer has his hitman’s license or credentials, and he’s forbidden from using any kind of weapon. Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) finds Bryce on vacation and entreats him to help her rescue her husband, hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), from mobsters. With that minor mission out of the way and the gang back together, Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) recruits the trio to take down crazed rich guy Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonia Banderas), who wants to destroy the European power grid with some super weapon in an electronic attack. Throw in Morgan Freeman as an undisclosed character, and you’ve got a movie plot.
The advantage of casting Reynolds and Jackson is that you get exactly what you expect. Reynolds has perfected his snarky, sarcastic persona in many roles and even TV commercials. Jackson’s angry, irritated man who curses constantly has been overdone, but I still find this act funny as hell when the dialogue hits the mark. Banderas reminds me a lot of another crazed rich guy in a recent movie — Pedro Pascal‘s character in Wonder Woman 1984. Hayek lights up the screen as the true star here, and writer/director Tom O’Connor and writers Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy fail to take full advantage of this spitfire. Unlike her cringeworthy performance in Like a Boss, Hayek bounces off the scenery and spouts her unique mixture of Spanish and curses that might even lead to some new coined phrases and insults. When Hayek’s in a scene, it brings the energy that’s so lacking in other parts of the film.
The action-comedy remains a tough genre to get right because of balance. Whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the freshman entry of this inevitable trilogy, this outing seems to just skate by. There are moments of each, but I would say that the action outweighs the comedy with sequences set all over Europe. Funny moments just didn’t keep me laughing for long, and I know the potential of the actors and the filmmakers. After Reynolds developed and starred in the breakaway hit Deadpool movies, I was spoiled to expect the same level of excitement and laughs in this sequel. Although by no means a dud, I want to feel exhausted from laughing after seeing a comedy. Had the creativity in the brief scene with a jukebox been replicated for the running time, this would have all melded together.
I have no doubt that a third movie is probably in the works no matter how this current one performs at the box office. I’d give it a shot if the filmmakers space it out and take the time to do something different. With the locations that span Italy, Croatia and England, many of the scenes look like postcards that celebrate Europe. Had the events and villain risen to the level of this James Bond-like approach, I’d be singing its praises like the nuns in the van in the original movie. Instead, I’m left explaining that Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard remains slightly disarmed like Michael’s character.