With Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is the surprising sequel to a surprise hit, the absurdity of which the makers are obviously much more aware of than in part one. Whether that’s good or bad, we’ll reveal in our review.
OT: Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (USA/UK 2021)
The plot summary
They are like dog and cat, heaven and hell, Whitney and Britney: bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson)! The world’s strangest deadly couple is back and once again embarks on a life-threatening mission. Bryce – still unlicensed and currently on a much-needed sabbatical – is forced back into service by Kincaid’s even more unpredictable wife, the internationally wanted criminal Sonia (Salma Hayek). In a very short time, his extremely dangerous protégés drive him crazy once again and the trio suddenly finds themselves involved in a global conflict: Europe against a vengeful and dangerous madman (Antonio Banderas) – Bryce and the Kincaids in the middle!
Depending on the source, 2017’s “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” cost just between $30 and $69 million to produce. The fact that the film ultimately grossed almost 180 at the box office – certainly mainly due to the star power of Ryan Reynolds (fully in “Deadpool” mode at the time) and Samuel L. Jackson (“Saw: Spiral”) as a bodyguard-client team cooperating against their will. The fact that such a box-office result inevitably leads to a sequel is on the one hand, the economic side. On the other hand, “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”, which couldn’t even attract 300,000 visitors to cinemas in this country, basically caused hardly any sensation. A quiet success, so to speak. It is therefore not surprising that there was no advertising outline for the sequel “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”. And even Ryan Reynolds, who is usually never at a loss for a PR campaign, preferred to promote his fantastic “Free Guy” endlessly rather than the action comedy originally titled “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”. To put it briefly: There was no need for a sequel because this one works purely on the “higher, faster, further” principle. This sometimes even has advantages, but it doesn’t offer anything new at all, apart from a damn strenuous Salma Hayek and two Hollywood superstars who hide even more behind their image.
(Ex-)bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson).
While the first part was entirely tailored to the opposing team of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, in the second part a figure comes to the fore that appeared as a supporting character in the first part: Salma Hayek (“Ways of Life – The Roads not Taken”) takes over all the scenes with her rapid-fire tirades of curses and swear words. And even though the Mexican actress clearly enjoys going all out on the strictness – both verbally and physically by repeatedly focusing on her breasts – this unique selling point of “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” quickly becomes redundant. Certainly: Anyone who just wants to watch an actress who is known for roles in films like “Dogma” or “Frida” go completely wild will get their money’s worth here (her dubbing role in Seth Rogen’s extremely rough animated comedy “Sausage “Party” probably comes closest to their performance here), but you quickly understand the concept without any dramatic nuances. And that might be funny for the first half hour, but it won’t last over 100 minutes. This ultimately also applies to the other two main characters – although Samuel L. Jackson again plays a supporting role here. His “motherfucker” attitude has long since worn off, as has Ryan Reynold’s self-deprecating streak. But at least he still puts his heart and soul into the latter, whereas Jackson has long been operating on autopilot.
“Samuel L. Jackson’s ‘motherfucker’ attitude has long been worn out, as has Ryan Reynold’s self-deprecating streak. But at least the latter continues to breathe life into it, whereas Jackson has long been operating on autopilot.”
For this reason, the appeal of “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” lies primarily in Reynolds’ passionate performance. Because even if you can accuse him of repeating the same character interpretations (or that he only seems to take on roles like that), his acting is humorous and infectious. It helps the film overcome the narrative monotony, because the good versus evil plot involving a very wealthy entrepreneur and an (in this case completely stupid) Interpol department involved in the investigation is action film business as usual and therefore anything but exciting . Ryan Reynolds is also the one who, alongside Salma Hayek, completely understands what kind of film he is starring in. The recurring director-writer duo of John Hughes (“The Expendables 3”) and Tom O’Connor (“The spy”) takes up his approach from the first part. Once again, the two of them add a good deal of absurdity to the action sequences, which are now and again quite high-quality and at other times look pretty cheap, and don’t give a damn about any kind of realism. One of the highlight scenes from the predecessor showed Reynolds’ character being run over by a car several times and being thrown unrealistically far through the air. “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” now has several such scenes in store (the “getting run over by a car” thing seems to be one of the makers’ favorites) and sometimes goes beyond slapstick. For example, when Ryan Reynolds introduces Darius Kincaid to his father (played by Morgan Freeman) and because of his African-American existence, he leaves a lot of question marks over Darius’ head.
At least Ryan Reynolds is in top form.
Let’s say: “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” works best as a Ryan Reynolds vehicle. And due to the makers’ greater awareness of the suspended physical laws and many obscure ideas that place the film completely in its own world, it is in some parts even better than its predecessor; Simply because, compared to the sequel, it drove with the handbrake on. But an action comedy still has the action, along with the visual qualities. And these present themselves contradictory in “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”. With a budget of 50 to 70 million US dollars, the film is once again in a price range that is mainly available on Netflix and Co. today. But it looks remarkably valuable. Especially the many set piece changes (some of which were shot at original locations, others simulated using green screen) sometimes make “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” look much more opulently equipped than it actually is. In short: The creatives make the most of their limited resources, even if there are now and then quite artificial-looking explosions sneaking in among the strong action scenes. But in the end they are not really exceptionally staged. Like the story, the action also falls into the “business as usual” category. And whether you have to buy a cinema ticket for this… decide for yourself!
“The creatives make the most of their limited resources, although now and then there are quite artificial-looking explosions sneaking in among the high-quality action scenes.”
Conclusion: Everything bigger, everything louder, everything crazier – but at least everything is less serious. “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is a typical sequel that follows the usual “higher, faster, further” formula. Since the tongue-in-cheek tone of the predecessor comes into its own here again, this is not fundamentally negative. But Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek in particular are going crazy this time.
“Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 26, 2021.