Review – And Salma Makes Three (“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”)

Deadpool, Nick Fury, and Frida Kahlo go after Zorro. Albeit that would have been a far better movie, this sequel to an iffy slam-bang actioner that relied on mostly car crashes and stunt work, returns with Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson for their bickering and one-liners.

Ignore the forgettable and woefully dumb plot, it’s the hilarious chemistry between Reynolds, Jackson, and Salma Hayek you came to see, and boy! Do they deliver! Okay, so here’s the ridiculous story: there’s a big shake-up in the E.U. (European Union) and Greece is upset about all the sanctions on it. Enter super-villain and terrorist mastermind, Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas, not sounding the least bit Greek). Anyway, this bad guy wants to destroy the entire European power grid in revenge by using your standard computer virus yadda-yadda-yadda. You know the drill. . . which, by the way, he actually uses!

Meanwhile, disgraced and unauthorized ex-bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Reynolds) is going through therapy after the first movie and decides to “go on sabbatical”, with no guns, no violence, and no body-guarding. Yeah, good luck with that! On vacation in beautiful Capri, Italy (in fact, most of the movie is shot all over Italy), he meets up with hell-cat Sonia Kincaid (Hayek), who grabs Michael to help her save her kidnapped assassin husband, Darius (Jackson) from bad guys. But really, it’s Sonia (with guns a’blazin’) that does the saving, while Michael just wants to be left alone and chill. He’s still on sabbatical, remember? 

But soon these three crazy people are recruited by Interpol and agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) to help them find out what nefarious stuff is going on, who’s selling what to whom, and stop the bad guys. They agree, but every step of the way they are greeted by killers who can’t shoot straight and old adversaries like Triple-A rated bodyguard Magnusson (Tom Hopper) and a chase scene on a bridge that is sheer lunacy. And all the time, poor Michael bears the brunt of most of the pain, shots, explosions, and car crashes. Needing help, Michael seeks the help of his estranged father who, quite coincidentally, lives in Palermo. And you’ll be amazed to see who plays his father!! (No spoilers here!

The third act is the big chase action set piece with Michael and Darius going after the nasty Aristotle who has taken Sonia aboard his yacht. There’s loads of shoot-outs, car chases, F-bombs galore, double-crosses, triple-crosses, and some truly funny ad-libbing from Reynolds, Jackson, and Hayek. And THAT is the only real reason to see this movie. The 2017 original movie was supposed to be a drama, but switched to a comedy late in the 11th hour. This film decided to lean into it, with humorous cut-aways and letting the principals just have fun with it. In many scenes, you can tell they were clearly off-script, and those were the best parts of the movie. 

With a recycled, dull plot by Tom O’Connor (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) and first-time writers, Brandon & Phillip Murphy, this movie is only watchable because of the comedic antics of the three stars. Switch them out with other actors and take away the ad-libbing, and this would have been a straight-to-DVD B-movie. You can see that Reynolds, Jackson, and Hayek were having a ball doing this, just watch their expressions. Director Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, The Expendables 3) knows how to shoot action, but does have some problems with holding that damn camera steady. Dude, buy a tripod!! They’re not that expensive!

**Now showing in theaters

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

What happens when an old 2011 dramatic screenplay gets greenlit for a movie, then the producers suddenly change their minds and want it to be a comedy instead? You get an eleventh-hour-made picture that is about as clichéd riddled and plot-holed as you can find. Well, at least you have Deadpool and Nick Fury in it!

In an overused and boring plot you’ve seen a dozen times (Midnight Run, 16 Blocks), you have a disgraced bodyguard named Michael Bryce who, at one time, was a Triple ‘A’ Rated elite bodyguard (and he keeps reminding you of this, ad naseum) until a client of his was expectantly killed. Years later we find Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), a merciless Eastern European dictator, on trial in Amsterdam for his vicious war crimes. However, all witnesses to his atrocities are dead, except for Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a deadly hired assassin who’s locked up. Interpol strikes a deal with Kincaid: testify against Dukhovich and his hell-cat of a wife, Sonia (Selma Hayek), will go free from prison. 

With that deal struck, transporting Darius from London to Amsterdam will be easy-peasy, right? Uh. . . not if you’re in THIS movie, it ain’t. Faster than you can say, “There’s a mole in Interpol”, a never-ending wave of Dukhovich’s bad guys come a’callin’ and each one apparently graduated from the Stormtroopers School Of Lousy Shooting. On the run for his life, Darius is helped by Bryce’s estranged ex-wife, Interpol agent Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung). Naturally, with killers everywhere, she calls Bryce for help in getting Darius to the Amsterdam trial on time (cue the ol’ ticking clock trope).

Just as you’d expect, Darius and Bryce know and hate each other and would sooner ‘pop-a-cap’ in each other. It seems that Darius keeps shooting Bryce’s clients. But with the prospect of getting his Triple ‘A’ Rating status back, Bryce accepts and the two form a hate/hate friendship as both corrupt Interpol cops and Dukhovich’s goons are after them every step of the way. What does this mean? One very long chase from point A to point B, with not-so-witty banter between these two F-bomb dropping motor-mouth’s, the occasional backstory flashback, plus loads of car crashes, bullets flying, explosions, blood-splattered deaths, and the complete lack of serious human damage to any of our stars.

Patrick Hughes, who directed the laughable blood-bath actioner, The Expendables 3, does one thing right: he knows how to shoot stunts, car chases, explosions, and fights. That’s his forte and, God bless him, he ups his ante in this film with some pretty damn good car chase scenes. In fact, that’s about ALL this movie’s good for, as Tom O’Conner’s screenplay is filled with every conceivable cliché, weak plot, deus ex machina, bad dialogue, and plot holes ever written in any movie. You’d think with Reynolds and Jackson together you’d get some great witty banter written, but nooOOOoooo! This is only O’Connor’s second screenplay and you can see why.  

Reynolds, holding back his usual rat-a-tat-tat ad-libbing that defines his personality (although he sneaks in some), is very good and matches Jackson scene by scene; not an easy thing to do. Sam ‘mother-f’ing’ Jackson makes this look easy with his laid-back charm and charisma, even in the forced quiet moments. The gorgeous Hayek looks like she’s having a ball with her unhinged role, but poor French actress Elodie Yung is just window dressing here as the boys play with their toys. If it weren’t for the electric pairing of both Reynolds and Jackson, this movie would have jumped to the $5 straight-to-DVD bin at Walmart.

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