Some movies feel like they were made by people who hate the people who will one day watch the movie they made. As clever as a copied-and-pasted Facebook joke and as original as an email forward from your grandfather’s AOL account, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a joyless turd that makes for a great sedative, despite everyone screaming every single line of dialogue.
Clearly envisioned as a “throwback action-comedy,” no modern film should make someone think “I’d rather be watching Tango & Cash.” Nothing should make anyone even think of Tango & Cash. If we’re not better than Tango & Cash by now, what has all this been for?
A surprisingly charm-free Ryan Reynolds returns as Michael Bryce, a surprisingly character-free character. He’s not neurotic enough to be goofy or smarmy enough to be biting. He’s like a police sketch of Chandler Bing. He cares a lot about his job, which is apparently incredibly hilarious to the filmmakers. Honestly, that tracks…
Bryce is working on improving his mental health, which is the sort of thing movies powered by the steam engine of toxic masculinity find abjectly comical. On vacation in Italy, he gets nabbed by Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek), who forces him to rescue her husband, Darius (Samuel L. Jackson). All three get ensnared in a plot by a madman furious that Greece has received economic sanctions. That character’s name is Aristotle Papadopoulos, and he is played by Antonio Banderas. If that’s not outright racist, then it’s distractingly stupid and upsetting for nonspecified reasons.
Everything in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard feels profoundly lazy, like everyone involved forgot they had a movie due until the night before. Papadopoulos’s “evil plan” is to use a diamond-tipped drill to disrupt Europe’s data or something. Was this the product of a James Bond Mad Libs? Even acknowledging that all action-comedy plots are basically a series of MacGuffins holding hands, no villain should have a less believable motivation than the villain in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar.
As everyone making it did, let’s pretend the script doesn’t exist. The trio of Reynolds, Jackson, and Hayek have whatever the opposite of chemistry is. Gym class? All three of them scream and laugh and carry on like they’re having the best time. They are not. They are not possibly having the best time, as this is a bad time. It is a very, very bad time.
This is one of those movies that throws a camera into a dryer and calls it a fight sequence. One that hopes quick edits disguise the fact it has absolutely zero forward momentum. One that confuses wacky needle drops for a good soundtrack. One that dusts off a bullshit, amateur-hour joke about asexuality because hacks don’t use “metrosexual” in their Squizz Shack stand-up routine anymore. One that traffics in so many “Careful dudes, ladies be crazy!” comments that it feels like a hysterectomy textbook from the 1800s.
It’s straight-up not very good, yo.
Grade = D-
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Roxanne Hadadi at Pajiba says “Living under capitalism means you always have bills to pay. I do not know how else to explain The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a movie that convinced me time had slowed to a crawl and captured me in its malevolent molasses grip, aside from quoting the illustrious Christopher George Latore Wallace: more money, more problems.”
Travis Hopson at Punch Drunk Critics says “It’s here to make you laugh at actors you love for 100-minutes and when it’s over, you can forget about it until The Hitman’s Ex-Wife’s Bodyguard or whatever the inevitable sequel will be. And you know what? That’s fine.”
Ruth Maramis at FlixChatter Film Blog says “It’s not a long movie but by the end of it, I felt tired from both the non-stop action and the banal plot, which is made worse by a promise of yet another potential sequel [cue eye roll].”