Ryan Reynolds's self-aware schtick wears dangerously thin in an ugly follow-up that seems to hate its own cast and audience
For better or for worse, Ryan Reynolds has, in recent years, become essentially synonymous with the “self-aware action comedy” genre, from megahits like Deadpool to the Bayhem of 6 Underground and the upcoming gamer-comedy (ugh) Free Guy. His latest, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, could mark the moment where audiences finally get tired of his schtick, though, an even worse sequel to the already lacklustre 2017 original that is insufferable, unfunny, and often downright boring.
Reynolds reprises his role as internationally-renowned bodyguard Michael Bryce, now plagued by nightmares about his last case – guarding notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) on his way to a trial at the Hague. Under orders from his therapist, Bryce takes a holiday to Italy where he promises himself “no bodyguarding, no guns, and no blood.” Within a matter of seconds, though, these resolutions are shattered as Bryce is pulled into a conspiracy by Kincaid’s wife Sonia (Salma Hayek), hunting for a MacGuffin that a Greek billionaire (played, bafflingly, by Antonio Banderas) is going to use to destroy all of Europe’s infrastructure.
It’s a poorly thought-out plot that barely hangs together, never giving you a reason to be invested or providing you with any meaningful stakes, all the while treating the audience with utter contempt, never trusting them to work anything out or even remember events from scene to scene. Every sticky situation Bryce and the Kincaids find themselves in is resolved with minimal effort, none of the bad guys ever presenting a credible threat. As a result, pretty much every scene of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard drags. The exposition is mind-numbing, the action handled with incomprehensible editing, and the jokes fall flat literally every time.
Particularly egregious are the gags at the expense of Hayek’s Sonia. No one’s expecting a film like this to win any awards for progressive attitudes, but the relentless stream of misogyny and ageism sent Hayek’s way is just horrible. It tries to be transgressive but ends up as simply mean-spirited. Meanwhile, Reynolds and Jackson are on autopilot, never generating the chemistry that you need to make a memorable buddy comedy like this work.
On top of the miserable writing and inept direction, this is an ugly, ugly movie. The screen is bathed in sickly, sweaty yellows that occasionally give way to murky greys and blacks, robbing what should be stunning Italian scenery of all its beauty, and there isn’t a single imaginative shot to be found.
It’s not a mystery as to why the actors involved would sign up to such a dismal movie – a boatload of cash to take a Tuscan holiday sounds like a pretty great deal – but it is a shame that they did: the end product is a spirit-sapping waste of time and money that feels at least half an hour longer than it is. Luckily, the ending doesn’t leave much room for any further misadventures in the series, so this sequel will hopefully spell the end. Two films in this franchise has proven two too many.
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard is now in cinemas.Where to watch