Length: 100 minutes
Director: Patrick Hughes
Writers: Tom O'Connor, with screenplay credits for Brandon Murphy and Philip Murphy
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Antonio Banderas, and Morgan Freeman.
In theatres 24 June (Singapore) and 16 June (Malaysia)
3 out of 5 stars
If there was ever a film that showed you the importance of hiring good thespians, Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard would be it. Saddled with a script so mediocre that it boggles the mind how three writers could have worked on it, the film somehow manages to scrape by, thanks to the performances of its cast. But even so, there's only so much they can do with it.
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is an action comedy that is a sequel to 2017's The Hitman's Bodyguard. It centres around the titular three characters in the title — a hitman, a hitman's wife, and a bodyguard — as they get mixed up in a dangerous conspiracy to topple the world order. The fate of the world lies in the hands of these three, which is a questionable situation to be in.
The movie manages to look slick and international, thanks to its treatment and relatively broad scope. So while the first film was relatively more contained, this one feels more epic, which suits its larger stakes. It's also fitting given the big names in the movie. In any case, it's clear that this movie is trying to outdo the previous one, although whether it actually does is another matter altogether.
Perhaps the biggest draw of the film is its star-studded cast. Morgan Freeman is a delightful addition as Michael Bryce Sr, adding a touch of class to the film and reining in some of its more over the top moments. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson continue to do what they're good at, being themselves, which is where most of the movie's appeal lies. Salma Hayek takes on a bigger (and louder) role in this film compared to the previous one, although much of the humour basically comes from her being a feisty, foul-mouthed con artist.
It's good that the film assembles a talented cast, because the humour comes from the performances — and certainly not the script. While the plot is serviceable, the writing is downright awful. Unfunny jokes land with all the grace of a limp corpse, and the visual gags are just... bland. As an egregious example, there's nothing particularly funny about seeing an unconscious Reynolds being tossed around and having multiple objects land on him during an escape scene, especially when Reynolds can't give a reaction, nor does he acknowledge the manhandling that occured when he was unconscious.
Then there's Sonia Kincaid, Hayek's character. The funnies come from her being bossy and swearing at all and sundry, but this gets old very quickly. While that may have been hilarious in the first film, repeating this gag ad nauseam wears it out. It's exacerbated by the fact that Jackson, who plays her onscreen husband Darius Kincaid, is far more judicious when it comes to swearing, even though he's famous for it. When you contrast these two characters and their delivery of what is essentially the same kind of humour, Hayek pales in comparison.
However, the film does have saving grace with its oddly sappy moments. It tries to define Michael Bryce better by delving into his past, explaining why he is the way he is, and also throwing some daddy issues into the mix. And it's a sincere attempt at characterisation. But then it gets mixed in with the poor attempts at humour and you end up with an odd blend of emotions in the film.
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard leverages on the talents of its cast, even as they struggle with making a terrible script work. It's bigger, though not necessarily better, than the first film. Given that the actors manage to eke out some laughs in spite of the horrible dialogue, one can't help but imagine — how much funnier would this film have been if it actually had a good script? Stay back for some snippets in the credits.
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