Review: “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ plays like a second-rate Deadpool sequel

Salma Hayek, Samuel L. Jackson, Antonio Banderas and Ryan Reynolds in Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard / Millennium Media

Marvel Studios may have put the profane anti-hero Deadpool on ice since the rights to the character returned to the studio after Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019, but that didn’t detour its star Ryan Reynolds from channelling his performance as the “merc with a mouth” in his latest film.

Your imagination doesn’t have to drift too far to envision the violent and profane shenanigans on display in Reynolds’ latest movie “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” as a less funny, less innovative retread of his Deadpool films, just without the red and black costume and all the other trappings of the X-Men universe.

All of Reynolds’ smarmy, smart-alecky, self-deprecating schtick he developed in bringing the comic-book character Deadpool to life on the big screen is on full display in this well shot but frenetic mess of a movie, but somehow all of the charm was rendered away like fat in the fire.

That’s too bad because this film boasts a fantastic cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson as the titular hitman Darius Kincaid whom Reynold’s character Michael Bryce is teamed with in this sequel to the 2017 original.

Salma Hayek plays Sonia, Darius’s wife, while Antonio Banderas chews a ton of scenery as Bond-like villain Aristotle Papadopoulos, an evil shipping tycoon.

Morgan Freeman and Frank Grillo are also along for the fun, if you can call it that in this tedious action film that swings and misses at being a comedy.

That’s a lot of talent to stockpile in one mind-numbing movie that’s not nearly as clever or entertaining as its director Patrick Hughes or its screenwriters Tom O’Connor, Brandon and Phillip Murphy intended it to be. Rarely has 100 minutes passed so slowly for me in a movie theater.

The plot reunites the main trio when Sonia recruits a forlorn Bryce, moping over the loss of his bodyguard certification, to rescue Darius, whose been kidnapped by mobsters.

After rescuing Darius, the three are caught by Grillo’s Interpol agent Bobby O’Neil, who coerces them to helping him nail Papadopoulos, who wants to destroy the European power grid and infrastructure because the European Union is standing in the way of his business’ progress. You know, basic ridiculous Bond villain stuff.

Every actor in the movie tries too hard to create something from the over-the-top script, but there’s just not a lot there so their work devolves into hammy self-parody that lacks any wit or subtlety.

It’s as if Hughes and his editor gathered every performer’s worst takes and stitched them together to create an overlong gag reel.

Unfortunately, the joke is on the paying customer.

(R) 1 hr. 39 min.
Grade: F

New in Local Theaters

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (watch trailer) / (R) 1 hr. 39 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Towne, Skylight

12 Mighty Orphans (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 1 hr. 58 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle

The House Next Door: Meet the Blacks 2 (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 1 hr. 40 min. / AMC Fiesta Square

Censor (watch trailer) / (R) 1 hr. 37 min. / Malco Pinnacle

The Sparks Brothers (watch trailer) / (R) 2 hr. 15 min. / Malco Pinnacle

Gaia (watch trailer) / (R) 1 hr. 36 min. / Malco Pinnacle

Classic Corner – Victory

Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine in Victory / Lorimar Film Entertainment

There’s nothing like sticking it to Nazis, and few movies depict the Allies pulling the wool over the eyes of Hitler’s finest in a more entertaining fashion than the 1981 sports/war film “Victory.”

The movie, directed by the great John Houston, stars Sylvester Stallone as Captain Robert Hatch and Michael Caine as Captain John Colby in a film very loosely based on a true story in which Allied prisoners of war teamed to face a squad of Nazi all-stars in a soccer match held in Paris during World War II. The movie also features the great Brazilian soccer star Pelé among other soccer greats in supporting roles.

The idea is concocted by Nazi Maj. Karl von Steiner (Max von Sydow) as part of a propaganda campaign to assert the myth of Nazi dominance in all realms of activity, including sports.

The Allies see it as an opportunity to embarrass the Nazi’s by staging a plan that would allow their POWs to escape with the help of the French Resistance during halftime of the match.

The film is compelling, featuring some outstanding soccer footage, choreographed by English World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks and fellow star Alan Thatcher and photographed by Gerry Fisher under second unit director Robert Riger.

Sure the ending, which features the novice footballer Stallone successfully defending a penalty kick against the Nazi’s best player, stretches the bounds of credibility, but it’s a gripping and stirring finale to a well-made sports film by one of Hollywood’s all-time best directors.

“Victory” is just the type of movie to revisit as we begin to ramp up for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. The movie is currently showing on HBO Max and is also available on Amazon Prime.