Director: Patrick Hughes Screenwriter: Tom O'Connor, Brandon Murphy, Phillip Murphy Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman Distributor: Lionsgate Running Time: 100 min. MPAA: R

Samuel L. Jackson at one point in the film picks up a mace and asks himself how it would work against bad guys. Being in the middle of an escape, he tries it out with brutal results. This very much encapsulates the experimental tone of Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; willing to try anything wild that it can throw at the screen. Sometimes it works.

As a sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard, with its mild throwback elements of buddy action flicks, this continuation tries to find more wild stuff for the neurotic bodyguard, the eccentric hitman, and his rage-fueled wife. Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is the bodyguard on break who believes a vacation from all the killing will do him good, even if he is roped back into another gun-slinging adventure. Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is the hitman who finds himself constantly cackling and cussing up a storm in his quest for marital bliss. His wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek), is pretty much the same but louder and more gung-ho. All three of them collide with constant bickering amid people who want to kill them, making their questionable relationships all the rockier to navigate.

The idea of this sequel is not bad for how the characters are established. Michael struggles not to use weapons while Darius and Sonia attempt to patch up their marriage when a honeymoon doesn’t work out. The only thing forcing them together is when an Interpol agent played by a standardly-snarky Frank Grillo forces them to stop a by-the-numbers James Bond plot. Antonio Banderas plays a lavishly dressed billionaire with plans to hold the EU at his mercy with a combination of drilling in the ocean and hacking energy grids. It’s such a paper-thin plot that I wished the trio of characters shoved into this scenario treated it with a bit more of the apathy they have for one another.

Sometimes the film does accomplish this comical aspect. In one of the first scenes where they’re off on their globe-trotting adventure, Darius and Sonia immeditely take the money they’ve been given for the job and enjoy a decadent honeymoon via montage while Michael remains in a temporary coma after one of many violent altercations he has with cars. There’s also more of a focus on on Michael coming to terms with his dad and the couple debating whether or not they should become parents, going full Fast & Furious by forcing familia into the thematic elements. Yet all the absurdities that go on in these personal arcs robs the ho-hum action-adventure plot of the ribbing it so desperately needs.

Much of the charm from the previous film’s fiery and explosive nature remains in a handful of scenes. By far the best combination of action and comedy occurs when Michael and Darius infiltrate the villain’s hideout and are ambushed by hitmen on hovercrafts that launch out of the water. It looks impressive but Michael and Darius are able to kill them without a second thought, commenting on how impractical such technology is for an ambush. Other times the characters just seem to go with the flow, where nobody at all questions a decoy of a boat that slams into a conveniently placed tanker of oil drums for that explosion at sea. There’s a brilliant bit of dark humor introduced with Michael’s weirdly tragic past and some great absurdity in how Morgan Freeman becomes involved. Sadly, there are moments when some good jokes are run into the ground, as when Michael keeps up a bit with Morgan Freeman that feels more at home in an Austin Powers movie.

The hitman, the bodyguard, and his wife are clearly running on fumes but sometimes get high off that remaining energy. It’s a mixed bag of a buddy action comedy that occassionally finds some funny stuff but also falls flat on its face more times than I’d like. There’s just enough here to warrant a return but by no means is there enough fuel left in its tank to warrant The Hitman’s Wife’s Son’s Bodyguard, a possible film where’s little doubt the funniest thing about it will be the long and confusing title.

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