THEATRICAL REVIEW: Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard fails to capture same magic, chemistry of original

When action-comedy vehicle The Hitman’s Bodyguard premiered in 2017, it was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the year.

The riotous, go-for-broke stylings of the film reeled me in. It found joy in pitting hitman Darius Kincaid with AAA-rated bodyguard Michael Bryce, and watching them clash and remain at odds with each other.

Propelled by the quick wit, sarcasm and expletives spewed from Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, they became a wonderful, unlikely match made in comedy heaven.

But this four-year gestating sequel, not-so-cleverely titled The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, fails to match the same bravura and atmosphere that made the original so fun.

It’s disconcerting in a way, since director Patrick Hughes, writer Tom O’Connor, Jackson, Reynolds, and Salma Hayek are all back. It’s the same ingredients, but somehow this sequel feels stale.

Michael Bryce has lost is licence and suffers from panic attacks and anxiety after the events in the original film, and is asked by his therapist to take a vacation and quit the life that causes him so much stress. He vows off violence, guns and bodyguarding, and begins to feel at peace.

But when Sonia Kincaid, wife of hitman Darius, shows up and ruins his vacation, he’s pulled right back in. Darius has been kidnapped, and they must try to save him.

Meanwhile, a titan is planning an attack on Europe, and he has a special connection to Sonia, putting everyone’s lives in mortal danger.

Reynolds, Hayek and Jackson riff their way through the film, but they never quite commit. It seems the male leads are coasting here, with Hayek giving the most energy in an expanded role from the first film.

Replacing Gary Oldman as main baddie is Antonio Banderas. Though he’s always welcome, he feels like just an extended cameo with no personality, even if his chemistry with Hayek still remains long after their 1995 vehicle Desperado.

With Frank Grillo and Morgan Freeman also on board, this sequel clocks in at nearly 20 minutes less runtime than the original, but tries to expand the story even further. It doesn’t work, and though it’s an easy, breezy diversion for 100 minutes, it never reaches the same heights as the original.

For die-hard fans of Reynolds’ quippy one-liners, you’ll find thing to enjoy. But it’s certainly not the best in the catalogue for any of these megastars.

3/5 Stars

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