Movie Review: “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”

Pity the fools who can’t appreciate the magnificent mayhem of “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” the screaming, bustierre-busting glories of Salma Unleashed.

Whatever middling “charms” the carnage-packed caper “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” wrung out of pairing up Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in 2017, casting Salma Hayek seriously ups the comic ante in this slaughterhouse of silliness. SERIOUSLY ups the ante.

And you can’t cast Salma without bringing in her Brother from a Spanish Mother, Antonio Banderas.

Stuff them all into a veritable travelogue of scenic Europe — Trieste to Tuscany, Zagreb to “Capri, like the pants” — with epic melees of stunning stuntwork, all breathlessly shot and cut together by director Patrick Hughes’ team, a “CAR CHASE” or three, often a called-shot by Reynolds’ bodyguard-in-therapy character, and you’ve got unfiltered, uninhibited popcorn pic escape, albeit with a staggering body count.

Reynolds’ Michael Bryce is on the couch, recalling his recurring dream, one in which he wins “Bodyguard of the Year” and gets his “AAA” bodyguard license back, which leads to orders from his therapist. Give up guns and bodyguarding. Take a “sabbatical,” maybe on an Italian island, “Capri, like the pants.”

But there is no R&R and reading “The Secret” for our metrosexual security expert. This short, buxom stranger with the filthy vocabulary and mad fighting and firearm skills blows in, screams and shoots a lot of people who might mean “BREECE,” as she calls him, harm. There’s a plot to “punish” Europe, and her “hoooosband” has been “keeeednapped.” By God, BREECE is the one may who can help. Under duress, mind you.

“Your mouth needs an EXORCISM!”

Hayek plays Sonia, wife of hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L.), hellbent on freeing her man, being held by the Mafia. And that runs them afoul of the nefarious designs of Greek supervillain Aristotle Papadoplous, purred by Banderas. He is about to bring Europe to its knees over the way it has treated Greece, and his bottom line.

INTERPOL’s token American (B-action king Frank Grillo) wants to “work with the bad guys to get to the worse guys,” and these three will do nicely. And we’re off. “CAR CHASE!” Nightclub fracas, assassinations, shootouts, the works.

Perhaps it’s out of date, but if anybody can make the “Latin Spitfire” stereotype cool, funny and scary again, it’s Hayek, who all but takes over the movie with her loud, brassy and delusional confidence. Giving a name to Reynolds’ “POWERFUL asexuality” on screen, exaggerating the hell out of her accent, swearing like a Mexican sailor and fighting her way to her beloved “cucaracha” Darius while setting off sparks with Bad Guy Banderas one more time, she is “over-the-top”defined.

I laughed at almost every broad gesture and at every word out of her pretty dirty mouth.

The stuntwork is most impressive in the chases, but Hughes stages this nightclub fight/shoot-out (set to a mariachi score) that is just jaw-dropping if you pay attention to the shot selection, edits, stunts, blasts, bullets and blows in between the laughs. Bond-film level spectacular.

And Mr. “POWERFUL asexuality” nebbishes this thing up, wearing bloodspattered clothes, nicked-up face, scabs and scars in scene after scene as his straight-man takes every blow the bad guys, and Sonia and Darius, dish out. Reynolds is a great reactor, and a guy who can make even PBS underwriting ads funny gives us “sensitive” and misused and ever-so-pissed about it well.

“I’m not doing guns right now.”

Was that his own copy of the BS self-help book “The Secret?” Just curious.

We’re not talking “The Taming of the Shrew” or “The Iceman Cometh” here. What you see if what you get, and even a wind sprint like “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” gets gassed here and there.

But be grateful some sticks in the mud are panning this amusing mayhem. They’re just making social distancing easier at the multiplex. It’s a hoot.

MPA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexual content

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas, Frank Grillo, Caroline Goodall, Richard E. Grant and Morgan Freeman

Credits: Directed by Patrick Hughes, script by Tom O’Connor, Brandon Murphy and Phillip Murphy. A Lionsgate release.

Running time: 1:39

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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