It would be difficult to imagine an R-rated action comedy more tedious and unengaging than “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” – despite all the car chases and would-be wisecracks – were it not for the existence of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” the 2017 sleep aid to which this sequel is a worthy successor.
Once again starring, in titular order, Ryan Reynolds as executive protection agent Michael Bryce, Salma Hayek as con artist Sonia Kincaid and Samuel L. Jackson as her assassin husband, Darius, the film throws this trio into a scenario much more complicated than is worth caring about.
To simplify: Michael, Sonia and Darius have come into possession of a component of a device that a Greek madman (Antonio Banderas) plans to use to disrupt the European power grid, more as leverage, apparently, than punishment for a geopolitical slight.
Upset over E.U. sanctions on his country, Banderas’s Aristotle Papadopolous pursues our three heroes hoping to regain the package in their possession even as he himself is being pursued by an Interpol agent (Frank Grillo).
Said package is linked, via a proximity sensor of some sort, to an explosive bracelet locked on Sonia’s wrist, adding not one iota of suspense. But none of this really matters.
I report it merely because, after trying, with only mixed success, to keep track of who wants what and why – the only mental activity that kept me awake for most of the film – I feel duty-bound to share it.
The dialogue, written by returning screenwriter Tom O’Connor, in conjunction with brothers Brandon and Philip Murphy, is less than what used to be called, in the Golden Age of Hollywood, sparkling. (Brandon Murphy is a former graffiti artist, and Phillip Murphy, according to legend, a former standup comedian.)
The best line, in a screenplay filled with vulgarity, is this gem, shouted by Hayek amid a car chase down a skeleton-rattling stone staircase: “I’m not wearing a sports bra!”
Look, I didn’t say it was a good or funny – or even unproblematic – line. Just the best in a sorry string of shouting and unprintable chaos.
There is one surprise, in the middle of the utterly unsurprising proceedings, related to casting. Though it isn’t much, I’ll leave it alone in case you need a pick-me-up at the halfway point.
I certainly did. Call it “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s” I’m-not-snoring-you’re-snoring moment. It ain’t worth the price of admission, but it is, in one of the drowsiest, dullest summer movies ever, a bit of an eye-opener. But for that brief wake-up call, we should all be fast asleep.
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