Directed By Patrick Hughes
Starring – Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek
The Plot – The world’s most lethal odd couple; bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson), are back on another life-threatening mission. Still unlicensed and under scrutiny, Bryce is forced into action by Darius’s even more volatile wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by his two most dangerous clients, the trio get in over their heads in a global plot and soon find that they are all that stand between Europe and a vengeful and powerful madman (Antonio Banderas).
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content
– Workhorses. Even with the limitations of the material quite literally doing them no favors, the talents of the ensemble cast elevate the experience with energetic deliveries that are anything but phoned-in. It starts with Reynolds, who has made a career out of being the dry straight man, complete with subtle one-liners and underlining charisma that is second to none in the category. Reynolds impeccable timing is only surpassed by an unorthodox characterization that certainly stands out in a movie of this caliber, allowing Reynolds the layers in depth to lose himself in the sensitivity of the character. Stack on top of that the evidential chemistry between Hayek and Jackson outlining two ruthless killers with a satisfying layer of heart to play towards the complimentary contradiction, and you have a trio of complex protagonists too charming not to indulge in. Even on the other end of the coin, Banderas is having the time of his life as the movie’s primary antagonist, harvesting a raw penchant for candor that helps to transform him in ways that very few other films of his competently has, colorfully illustrating the fun for the role that Antonio so obviously loses himself in.
– Humorous ecstasy. The comic material in the film might work less for other audiences, but for my money I was right at home with the majority of R-rated gags and punchlines that found effectiveness in the dark humor boundaries of my soul. Most of it does really stem from the limitless appeal of the depths that the material is willing to travel, captivating its leads, primarily Reynolds, with an abundance of humiliating vulnerability that moves mountains for breaking the ice, and gives us no shortage of three-dimensional wall breaking full of quips and devilish Easter Eggs, but for my money it’s the tonal consistency that remains firm despite the magnitude of brutality from ear-rattling action. Even with this movie being action first, it’s the comedy Hughes uses to enhance its appeal, maximizing on the personality dispersed from an array of A-list faces to play toward it in reactive commentary, giving this sequel a height of comedic consistency that its predecessor never quite reached.
– Mixed results. As for the movie’s pacing, there’s split consequences that form from a swift consistency that gets matters moving from the very beginning of the movie. On the positive side of things, the film constantly keeps us engaged with a barrage of sequences and character movements that never even remotely have the chance to overstay their welcome, moving with the frequency of a freight train barreling towards the finish line with an experience that feels half of the 94 minute run time we’re saddled with. On top of this, the script itself provides answers fast for its couple of twists that it throws into the occasion sporadically, refusing to force audiences to endure building blocks of padded exposition towards a scheme of pacing that unnecessarily constitutes longer run times for the sake of it. This movie knows exactly what it is, and because of such maintains the urgency in a narrative that is literally and figuratively moving constantly at all times.
– Influential soundtrack. Much of the song selections for the film do resonate with an air of on-the-nose effectiveness that is a bit too predictable to feel articulant, but the selections themselves do a solid part of generating particular feelings in the context of the scenes the accompany, all the while playing into the music video style of cinematography from Terry Stacey that polishes each frame. My favorite is definitely that of “The Best” from Tina Turner, a power ballad that illustrates the fantasy world that persists in Michael’s head, far from the stresses of the Kincaid’s despair in reality. The tracks themselves spring humor from the mostly consistent material that I previously mentioned, but also feed into the dark and twisted humor of the movie’s tonal consistency that offer a stark audible contrast of heavenly warmth to play against the abundance of brutality displayed in the visual circumference.
– Unnecessary cash grab. This feeling is cemented early on in the movie, when not only do jokes within the first film repeat themselves in uninspired rendering, but the film encompasses itself with an air of inconsequential aftershock that stems from a finale that somehow undershoots its landing while setting nothing up long term along the way. When you comprehend the characters by the end of this movie, you start to interpret that very little about them has changed as a result of this mission. Characterization remains virtually non-existent, cliches of the genre remain as prominent and tacky as ever, and the lack of motivation from the antagonist stems from a single line of dialogue; “I Want to make Greece great again”. What’s most confusing is the first movie did alright at the box office, but it certainly wasn’t an overwhelming success. So is this sequel an obligation film that was signed previous to the first movie, in hopes that it would spawn a popular franchise? One of the many dreams that didn’t come to fruition within this production.
– Chaotic story. There’s so much to unload here that I could write a review solely on this aspect alone. On a writing level, three different credited writers are certainly felt, especially considering the film is hurling something new and obtuse to the surrounding project, every five minutes or so. For instance, we are introduced to a new character with about half an hour left into the movie, and it becomes the pivotal plot point from that second forward, but never received even a second of a hint in everything previously. On top of that, there’s no long-form narrative or key conflict to enhance audience interest, instead baiting and switching sporadically with a series of one-off situations and sequences for the sake of driving home a gag above everything else. It has this film searching for an identity that it unfortunately never finds, and is the key ingredient for why it fails to surpass the original, if even just for how little it distinguishes itself for the benefit of its cause.
– Mixed Results Part 2. On the contrary to the free-flowing pacing that I previously heralded, the negative pulling force in such a concept results in unexplored, unfulfilled subplots that keep the movie from attaining any level of maintained momentum to carry over from one scene to the next. Because this script is constantly in a rush to reach its destination, it sacrifices the benefit of urgency in the form of its storytelling, disallowing audiences any time to let the movements of the conflict materialize while feeling the heft of stakes that constantly hang in the balance. Because there’s very little struggle or internal conflict with both the non-existent characterization and lumpy narrative, it fails to attain believability in naturalization seamlessly, and serves as the single biggest instance where this movie constantly broke my attention and investment repeatedly. It’s one of those rare examples where breezy storytelling compromises so much more because of such.
– Strange direction. I was at around the halfway point of the movie when I realized that “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” (Still the worst title of the year) was the victim of a second chapter spoofing, in order to get ahead of the aspects of production wrong with its initial opening chapter. This is the cool trend that many comedies are doing these days in order to make themselves review proof against the backlash of critics like myself, but why it doesn’t work for this franchise is mainly because in being entirely self-aware with itself, those same problems from before still resonate, even twice as strongly as its previous installment. At its core, this is still a by-the-numbers bore of the hundreds of buddy cop road trip movies that came before it, etching out a predictability factor that feels easy to map out everything that is going to happen in the film from its already overtly revealing marketing trailers. It’s a sequel that tries to reinvent itself, but has so very little originality in its substance to prove it’s any different from the films it scoffs at, proving itself to be a film that is just as hypocritical if not more for how it refuses to change despite the knowledge of knowing.
– Hand-holding. Is there anything more aggravating in a movie than obvious, on-the-nose narration that tells more than it shows in the context of backstory? Such a sin is realized not once, but twice in this movie, and with entirely different measures for its cause. The first is with overhead audio narration in the form of an announcer telling us about Michael Bryce, and why he is considered so special in his respective field. It’s forgivable because this ends up being a dream scene, but defeats the clarity with the next narrative framing device that comes in the form of one of its best actors. I’m of course talking about Frank Grillo, whom you wouldn’t even know is in the movie with his lack of emphasis in the movie’s marketing, and whose appearance here is all the more pointless when you consider he does literally nothing throughout the film but mumble in the background everything that happened in the foreground between our trio of leads that we already saw in the previous scene. It underscores one of the movie’s finest talents dramatically, and wastes what very little time we have in a 94 minute run time with breakneck pacing, filling in the gaps of intrigue with thinly written dialogue that echoes continuously throughout.
– Technical blunders. Whether it’s the cheesy, unlively aspect of some of the worst computer generated special effects that I have seen this year, or the laughably bad editing with its own batch of pasting problems, the action scenes in this film never had a chance to succeed as effectively as those from its predecessor. It hurts enough that the cutting and pasting of angles and movements are obscured so frenetically enough that the scene has a difficulty conveying the physical movements of each of its characters in frame, further alienating audience connection to the intrigue of the sequence, but it’s made all the worse when certain elements of continuity don’t line up accurately from one cut to the next. Such an example takes shape in a scene involving Hayek taking her shirt off, where one second she’s in her bra without a replacement shirt in her hand, and two seconds later after the cut she’s back in a shirt. This is one of a few instances of jaded believability that I caught upon my first watch, but speaks volumes to the amateur elements of production that halted its appeal, making this one of those films we the audience are laughing at, instead of laughing with.
My Grade: 4/10 or D