The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard (2 stars)

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard

Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson and Salma Hayek reunite for a sweary and chaotic sequel

'The fate of Europe is in the hands of a hitman and a bodyguard,' grumbles Frank Grillo in an apparently slung together sequel from returning director Patrick Hughes and original screenwriter Tom O'Connor, this time writing alongside Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy. 2017's Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L Jackson team-up The Hitman's Bodyguard didn't get a lot of love from critics but it was somewhat of a financial success story, making a reprisal inevitable.

When the European Union impose crushing economic sanctions on an already struggling Greece, proud Greek tycoon Aristotle Papadopolous (Antonio Banderas) retaliates by plotting cyber-attacks which aim to bring Europe to its knees, thus 'restoring Greece to its rightful place at the centre of civilisation.' Meanwhile, Michael Bryce (Reynolds), who is still in crisis after losing his bodyguarding licence, has his beach holiday sabotaged by con-woman Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek), who drags him into a rescue mission to recover her husband Darius (Samuel L Jackson), with whom Michael, of course, has a chequered history. Their efforts inadvertently interfere with the Interpol operation to thwart the attacks in question, causing Grillo's cheesed-off American agent Bobby O'Neill to strong-arm the bickering trio into assisting him.

It's all hopelessly rushed – globe-trotting wildly and moving at an insane, barely narratively coherent pace. Jackson is very much going through the motions and, though Reynolds' garrulous and slightly goofy charisma is present and correct, without decent material behind him he can tip over into irritating and would benefit from taking the occasional less cheesy side-step in his career (2010's Buried or 2015's Mississippi Grind being good examples). Hayek brings plenty of aggressive energy to her beefed-up performance, balancing her action heroics and sweary outbursts with fairly depressing eye-candy duties, while Banderas boasts an entertainingly stiff quiff and hams it up appropriately without ever being given much to do.

There's some enjoyable silliness – with a ravenously maternal Sonia and a pathetic Michael slightly oddly filling a void in each other's lives (Sonia's comment that Michael's 'powerful asexuality' makes him a good listener is an amusing touch). Michael being given a 'sea burial' after he's knocked unconscious also merits a laugh, yet such memorable moments are in the minority. If it revels in its lewd language and splattery violence, it's hardly transgressive stuff, with a cut-and-paste plot and, at its heart, a distinctly old-fashioned attitude. We've been starved of flashy entertainment of late but this kind of lazy, seen-it-all-before sequel has not been missed.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 18 Jun.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard

  • 2 stars
  • 2021
  • US
  • 1h 56min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Patrick Hughes
  • Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman
  • UK release: 14 June 2021

Action comedy sequel to The Hitman's Bodyguard.