Comedy sequels tend to not have the best reputation, and for good reason. For every 22 Jump Street or Hot Shots Part Deux, there’s a Caddyshack 2, Zoolander 2, Weekend At Bernie’s 2, hell, even Mannequin got a sequel. The Hitman’s Bodyguard, a disposable 2017 action comedy that became a late-summer sleeper hit wasn’t the kind of film that warrants a sequel, but, of course, money talks. Being a sequel to a mediocre action comedy, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard already has a low bar to clear and it fails to even hit that.
Returning director Patrick Hughes — a very talented genre filmmaker in his own right, his little seen Red Hill is taut, mysterious little aussie thriller — is lost within the chaos of his own film. The first film had a simple enough premise; Ryan Reynolds, a bodyguard, is tasked with protecting an elite assassin, Samuel L. Jackson, set to testify against a brutal dictator. Here, the plot is far too complicated and downright incoherent, making attempts to follow it, nearly impossible. From the opening scene, the film establishes a choppy visual rhythm in which coherent pacing is nowhere to be found. Events happens with little to no reason and the second you question the motivation for a certain plot development, the next scene has already started and the film has no interest in looking back. The action sequences are edited into oblivion, eventually becoming visual static. Before the hour mark, you’ll already be beaten into submission.
The cast largely seems bored. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are sleepwalking their way through the film; you can practically hear their checks cashing off-screen. Antonio Banderas gives a rare terrible performance as the films baddie, whose motivations boil down to “kill people so I can be rich”. On one hand, it’s nice to see Salma Hayek get the chance to fully revel in the cartoonish nature of her character, playing Jackson’s coocoo-bananas wife. Unfortunately, she’s mostly relegated to shouting random expletives at the top of her lungs hoping to make the most unengaged of audiences chuckle at hearing the words “cucaracha” and “motherfucker” in the same sentence. Even the on-screen reunion of Hayek and Banderas comes with very little fanfare. The one cast member who manages to escape the film relatively unscathed is Frank Grillo, playing the perfunctory detective character whose “zero tolerance for bullshit” demeanor provides some of the films only laughs.
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is not just a terrible title, it’s a terrible film. An action comedy sequel that’s certainly bigger and louder, but can’t even deliver on the bare essentials of a competent comedy or a competent action film. Its performance are unenthusiastic, the action sequences are edited to ribbons, and the overall lack of wit or charm all really make 99 minutes feel like an eternity.