Running time: 99 minutes. Rated R (strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexual content). In theaters.
The answer to the question “How many jokes can Salma Hayek crack about her own breasts?” has arrived in the form of a movie called “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.” Somebody else will have to add them up, though. There are so many, and I’m no mathematician.
And yet, somehow Hayek and the low-brow material she’s been regrettably handed are the best part of this unwanted, unnecessary sequel to the also-bad 2017 buddy cop film “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” Her returning co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds are, respectively, coasting and unbearable.
Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, the ninny bodyguard, who was so traumatized by the events of the first movie that he’s been forced into therapy. His agonized therapist gets rid of the weirdo by telling him he’s “graduated” from their sessions and jets him off to the island of Capri for some R&R.
As soon as he arrives in Italy, though, his hotel pool is laid siege by gunmen (naturally) and he’s rescued by Sonia Kincaid (Hayek), the hitman’s wife. She needs Bryce’s help to save her husband Darius Kincaid (Jackson), the hitman, from his captors.
Reynolds’ high-pitched nerd shtick has worn thin in general over the years, and here his squeaky voice would be better suited to scaring away pigeons in a parking garage. He whines and squeals while Jackson rattles off “s–t”s and “f–k”s and Hayek shimmies around making emotional pronouncements. (Like I said, she’s the most entertaining of the lot).
For such an idiotic film, the villainy afoot is mighty difficult to wrap your head around. The EU has put sanctions on Greece for some reason, so a rich countryman (Antonio Banderas, looking and sounding about as Greek as Suzanne Somers) decides to infect Europe’s internet grid with a virus that will destroy cars, trains, buildings and more in revenge.
It’s kind of like a Pierce Brosnan James Bond plot mixed with Michael Bay’s excesses and then watered down so as to become totally forgettable.
Bryce and the Kincaids’ role in this head-scratching scheme is convoluted, as is Frank Grillo’s special agent character, Bobby O’Neill, who spends the whole movie begging to be transferred back to Boston from London while referring to his Scottish female translator as “Sean Connery.”
Still, if it was better made, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” would be your average bargain-bin action-comedy film. Director Patrick Hughes and screenwriters Tom O’Connor, Phillip Murphy and Brandon Murphy’s problem is that the balance of jokes and stakes is wildly off-kilter, so we don’t care much about anybody.
The characters are so wacky you don’t believe them as killers or strategists or even just bystanders who are in the right place at the right time. You simply don’t buy anything about them. Ever. Just wait until Morgan Freeman shows up on-screen in a role so far beneath him, you’d think he was getting career advice from Robert De Niro.