Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 23, 2021)
With a worldwide take of $176 million, 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard didn’t exactly dominate at the box office. Still, with a budget of only $30 million, it turned a profit, and apparently this seemed like enough to greenlight a sequel: 2021’s awkwardly titled Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.
Tycoon Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas) pursues revenge for some punitive actions taken on Greece. In a total overreaction, he plans to trash the European infrastructure and bring misery to millions.
Unsurprisingly, other authorities want to thwart this. This reunites disgraced bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) with hitman frenemy Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) and Darius’s wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) as the unlikely potential saviors.
Wife provides a movie that feels too unsure of itself to ever give the audience a pause. It's just bam bam bam bam bam for two hours, without niceties like character development or plot.
Oh, there is a "plot", albeit one that doesn't make a lick of sense - and that oddly attempts to get us to buy Antonio Banderas as a Greek, even though he does nothing to simulate a Greek accent. He does wear a large wig of silver hair, which appears to be shorthand for "Greek tycoon" at the movies.
Sure, the movie pretends to offer character arcs. Bryce attempts to deal with the trauma of the first movie's events and reclaim his status as a AAA-rated bodyguard, while Darius and Sonia aspire to have a baby. Nevermind that Salma Hayek is almost 55 years old - who cares about biological limitations in a wacky movie like this?
Boy, does Wife push the envelope of that "who cares?" factor. It pursues any thread it can find if it believes hilarity or action will result.
Actually, I think the filmmakers really hoped that we'd get so carried away by the talents of the actors that we wouldn't notice what a mess the movie was - and occasionally, this happens. No one involved breaks a sweat, but with Hayek, Banderas, Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman in tow, the movie can't help but generate some entertainment value.
Still, it's an inherently lazy movie that does little more than package a slew of action flick cliches into one place without any thought about how they fit or whether any of it makes sense. Crud, even the title doesn't make sense, as Bryce never actually acts as Sonia's bodyguard.
The movie utterly wastes Morgan Freeman as Bryce's stepdad - and doesn't even make sense there.
Why is the Reynolds character named after his stepdad? Does that ever happen? Why not just make him adopted?
Why does Michael Sr. call his son "Bryce"? That's his name too!
Why does Michael Jr. have an American accent even though he apparently grew up in Tuscany?
The movie casts Freeman for the "Black dude has white son" gag and some name value. He seems ill-used.
I guess some will excuse the idiocy because Wife does sort of attempt to parody the genre. It clearly knows that it lives in a fantasy world, one where Bryce can be hit full-speed by a car, fly over the roof, smash into the pavement and yet get up no worse for wear. It basically embraces all the action silliness that The Other Guys lampooned, and it understands that.
Still, the movie doesn't self-mock enough to overcome the stupidity, and the utter absence of a coherent plot doesn't help. Basically we get "bad guy wants to stage mass casualty event" and that's about it. Everything just exists to allow the leads to romp around Europe and cause a lot of mayhem.
The first movie wasn't good but it mustered enough ridiculous action to be watchable, and even with all these flaws, I feel the same about the sequel. Objectively it's a terrible movie, but it's a terrible movie that kinda keeps the viewer with it.
I just wish the filmmakers would've tried a little bit harder to make a quality movie instead of this lazy mess. It feels like someone wrote the screenplay over a semi-drunken weekend and they never bothered to do any touch-up work on it. Wife keeps us mildly engaged but it suffers from far too many flaws to qualify as an actual “good film”.
Footnote: a tag scene shows up during the end credits, and a wacky “memorial” appears at the text’s conclusion.