Friday, June 18, 2021

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: Also Starring Frank Grillo

Brexit just keeps looking better and better, doesn’t it? Currently, the UK is far out-performing the EU when it comes to vaccinations. It should also be safely out of the crosshairs when a Greek super-patriot hatches an apocalyptic scheme to avenge Brussels’ policies that humbled his country. Europe’s only hope rests in the three characters referenced in the title of Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, which is now playing in actual theaters.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard, bodyguard Michael Bryce protected his old contract-killer nemesis long enough to testify against an Alexander Lukashenko-like dictator at The Hague, but he is still haunted by Darius Kincaid’s assassination of his most important client. His shrink wants him to move on to safer employment, but Kincaid’s wife Sonia pulls him back in to save her husband (against both of their wishes).

Even though Bryce has temporarily sworn off guns, he and Ms. Kincaid successfully rescue her hubby from the Euro gangster holding him. Inconveniently, they also kill him before Interpol Agent Bobby O’Neil can recover the sensitive European infrastructure information he acquired for the shadowy mastermind. It turns out the villain is Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Papdopolous, who needs a briefcase full of codes linked to an explosive device that winds up strapped to Sonia’s wrist.

Like its predecessor,
HWB is definitely a meathead movie, but it is a rare sequel that manages to be funnier than the original. Obviously, Samuel L. Jackson does his F-bomb-dropping thing as Kincaid—and it is still works as well as ever. Ryan Reynolds probably gets even more laughs as the wildly neurotic Bryce. However, Salma Hayek (who was conspicuously under-utilized in the first film) steals the show as the spectacularly foul-mouthed and hair-trigger-tempered Sonia Kincaid. She is a riot, pretty much literally.

As an added bonus, Frank Grillo lends his grizzled grit as O’Neil. Frankly, he should have been up there on the one-sheet, because he certainly gets more laughs than Antonio Banderas (who hams it up embarrassingly as Papdopolous). Morgan Freeman is amusing in a small role that would be spoilery to reveal. (Also look for Rebecca Front from
Inspector Lewis playing Bryce’s exasperated therapist.)

There are a fair number of awkward moments in
HWB, most but not entirely all are deliberately intended. Regardless, Hughes keeps it moving along at a wild gallop, matching nearly every gunshot with a punchline. The latter do not hit with as much accuracy as the former, but their conversion rate it still pretty good. It is not high art, but it succeeds on its own terms, yucking it up, while blowing up a lot of stuff. Recommended again for fans of old school action comedies, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is now playing in New York theaters, which are still greatly socially-distanced in practice, even if it is no longer mandated by policy.