'Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard' is a motherf***ing blast
HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD (2021)
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is one of the most surprising films of 2021. With a lackluster response to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard, it was safe to say that on a personal level this sequel was not one I was overly looking forward to. So to leave the theater with a smile on my face was a huge improvement over the disappointment I exited with from the first.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard director Patrick Hughes returns to helm the sequel and appears to have learned how to elevate the content from the first by making a rambunctious time with violence and hilarity fueled by the chemistry of Jackson, Reynolds, and Hayek. The film is purely an action film with action set piece after action set piece, and while the direction seems to fit the film, there’s no denying that at times the action can be rather choppy when you have such titles available as the Kingsman or John Wick franchises. With constant action throughout, we get moments of levity through flashbacks that fly in and out often and usually hold some kind of comedic payoff (looking at you gelato flashback). Normally if you implement this much backstory through flashbacks, it can sometimes feel as though the film is merely filling in the blanks after the fact to make the film watchable; in this case I think it works with its comedic effect. While it may seem as though I’m highly praising Hughes’ direction, there is a good variety of things that could be better: pacing, action, placement of flashbacks, and use of unnecessary CGI, but in comparison to the disappointment of the first, this one brought the fun and brought it with a fury.
After the events of the first film, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) goes on sabbatical from body-guarding but is thrust back into action - unlicensed and unarmed. Forced into a mission with his rival Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) and Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek), he must finish his sabbatical while managing to not get himself killed by the Kincaids or the villainous Aristotle (Antonio Banderas). The most significant issue with the original is that it handled itself like a Bond film but with shuffled moments of comedy thrown in by primarily Reynolds and occasionally Jackson. Here we get to see all three shine because the story around them allows them to do so. Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard contains plenty of twists and turns and double crosses, but it’s easy to follow from start to finish and excels at just making a fun espionage thriller. It’s made a thousand times better by the lack of a new Bond or Mission: Impossible feature in recent years to compare it to. It’s not on the level of either franchise listed or as aware of itself as the Kingsman series, but it seems to have finally marked a path for itself that sets up a potential third film, although this sequel is a well deserved redemption in its own right.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Led once again by Reynolds and Jackson with a much more extensive inclusion of Hayek, we are given the ultimate trio of bombastic, profanity fueled characters. Outside of the main three we have our villain, Aristotle (Antonio Banderas), who wishes to corrupt the data of Europe and cause major chaos amongst the mainland; his villain has very basic intentions, but it aligns so perfectly with the espionage films of the past. Banderas is fantastic in his role and provides a fun approach to villainy that was missing from The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Frank Grillo also makes an appearance in a minor role but is unfortunately underutilized, marking yet another failure to cast the actor properly since his terrific The Purge role. Nonetheless, it's always great to see Grillo on the big screen separated from Bruce Willis. One of the most shocking inclusions of the film is Morgan Freeman (featured on the theatrical poster), who takes on a mysterious role – marking his best performance in nearly a decade.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Without viewing a “making of” special feature, I have come to the conclusion that whenever there is an ocean view or a photogenic backdrop behind a character, we witness a massive green screen – namely because the backgrounds vary in quality. But whether digitally added or not, it never hinders the experience of the film, it just manages to catch your eye from time to time. However I am conflicted by the CGI, as it can become distracting at times by lacking realism during key moments – the CGI reminds me of the effects present in the original Olympus Has Fallen. Sometimes it's better to not include it if it's not gonna make the impact you intend.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Composer Atli Ovarsson still rings a bell when his name pops up, namely for his work on Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, one of my favorite comedies of 2020. He composed the score for the original The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but to be honest I can’t remember if his score there packed as big of a punch as it did in Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. His score here is adrenaline pumping, light hearted, and full of pauses for comedy; Ovarsson nailed the tone of the film perfectly.
Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is a motherf***ing blast that surpasses the original in every way. What makes this film so great is that the original isn’t even necessary to fully enjoy this sequel as a standalone. Hopefully it’s time for this trio to retire, but if it is a success at the Box Office I wouldn’t be opposed to yet another adventure as long as it raises the bar once more. If you’re looking for a fun return to the theater and don’t mind a hard R-rating, this is the film to go back to the cinema for.
THE HITMAN'S WIFE'S BODYGUARD - ONLY IN THEATERS JUNE 16TH