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Review: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard – “Frenetic, Funny and Absolute Flippin’ Mayhem”

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It’s not often you see a movie title sporting two apostrophes, but how else could Lionsgate market their sequel to the uber-successful Hitman’s Bodyguard than with additive silliness? The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (THWB) does not disappoint, being just as action-packed, pseudo-violent and funny as its predecessor.

The film starts with Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) in therapy, desperately trying to reconcile the loss of his Triple A bodyguard rating, forfeited during the events of The Hitman’s Bodyguard. He takes a sabbatical from the protection business on the lovely island of Capri, but is quickly found by conwoman Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) who enlists Michael (or, as she calls him, ‘Breece’) to help her extract her hitman husband Darius (Samuel L Jackson) from the Mafia. Meanwhile, shady Greek businessman Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas), devastated by Greece’s financial collapse, is keen to get his hands on a machine that could help him wreak revenge on the rest of Europe, but not if the Director of Interpol, Renata Casoria (Tine Jostra) and Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) have anything to do with it. In a series of hilarious and bloodthirsty encounters with henchmen led by Papadopoulos’s super-bodyguard Magnusson (Tom Hopper, showing us that Dickon Tarly could have been this ice-cool) the unlikely throuple power their way to mayhem, and the possible saving of the entire EU.

Those looking for realism or sense in movie plots should stop right now, the point of THWB is pure, unadulterated pleasure, in the form of copious explosions, spurting gunshots to the face and snappy wisecracks. Screenwriter Tom O’Connor – with the help of Brandon and Philip Murphy, delivers another impeccably madcap script delivering quip after quip while the action unfolds. As in The Hitman’s Bodyguard, this film excels for three reasons, the line delivery by Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek, the unique fight choreography, and the pinpoint editing which means the camera never lingers on any of the violence. Director Patrick Hughes knows exactly how to film his leads shooting their way out of scrapes. When Morgan Freeman appears in a ridiculous cameo, it’s clear that, in the THWB universe, comedy is as equally important as action. In fact, this film’s visual jokes have an increasingly surrealist edge.

Hayek is sensational, with killer lines and an excellent delivery, easily adding to the buddy-cop relationship that works so well between Reynolds and Jackson. This is a movie that never takes a breath, and doesn’t suffer for it.

There are, of course, flaws in this kind of break-neck spectacle. Primarily, Elodie Yung’s Agent Roussel, an essential part of The Hitman’s Bodyguard does not feature in this movie and is not even referenced, which feels like an oversight that could have been remedied with a line of dialogue. Similarly, Banderas is about as Greek as the character from Lock, Stock, and it would have been better to have cast a Greek actor or at least made a joke at Banderas’s expense. Likewise, THWB’s stock in trade is creative insults, yet poor Alice McMillan‘s function as Scottish Interpol operative Asole (I think they meant Isolde) is to stand next to Grillo and receive racist abuse masquerading as gags, which feels a bit pre-metoo for a film released in 2021.

All in all, there’s nothing like the frenetic mayhem of The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and a third movie will certainly be along in due time – The Hitman’s Wife’s Labradoodle’s Bodyguard has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

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