The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

I have to get this out the way before I start: that is in the running for the worst title for a cinematic release this year. It’s clunky as hell and doesn’t flow off the tongue when you say it. Seriously, say it out loud right now. It just doesn’t feel right. Also it’s not really relevant as the bodyguard is no more protecting the wife than he was in the first one. A simple “The Hitman’s Bodyguard 2” would have worked better and made it easier to talk about.

Right, that weird thing over here, let’s move on. This film has had a lot of negative reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10. That seems too low. Yeah the plot is, well it’s not great. There are some moments which are just stupid. And there are some things which just happen for the sake of plot. But it’s also really damn funny. Had some of the most laugh out loud moments I’ve seen in a film so far this year (definitely the funniest I’ve seen at the cinema. I know, it is truly shocking that this film is funnier than one about Anthony Hopkins having dementia).

So how does it look? Mostly okay. There are a few action scenes where the geography is difficult to keep track of. The film doesn’t do a good enough job of letting you know exactly what and where is going on. Some of the simpler more intimate action scenes work a lot better, when it’s a one on one fight they’re pretty damn good, but it’s when the film aims bigger that the flaws seem more apparent.

There are also quite a few issues when it comes to plots. Numerous dominos are set up but the film gets bored and walks away to play with something else before it gets a chance to topple them. Characters are set up to be antagonists, but then barely feature. This is especially troubling when the villain is as underdeveloped as the one in this is. The biggest example is with a briefcase. Very early on in the film someone attaches an explosive bracelet to the wrist of Salma Hayek’s character. If she steps too far away from an item in a briefcase then the bracelet will detonate. This plot point, combined with the title of the film, makes you think that will be the main narrative aspect of the film. And obviously that will play into the villains death later on in a scene of karmic retribution.

Nope, it matters for one scene. There’s one action sequence where it feels like it puts the character in danger, it then gets taken off. So why was it in the story? It didn’t add anything to the plot, there was only scene where it put the character in jeopardy, and it feels like too big a plot device to put in for that one moment. Feels like such a wasted opportunity.

This is exactly the kind of film you just put on, leave your brain at the door, and enjoy. It won’t hit anybody’s end of year best films list, but it will hit the funniest. It will probably have one for “best surprise character” if that was a thing which it probably isn’t. All the film, Ryan Reynold’s character talks about his dad and how he was an elite bodyguard, and all he wanted to do was impress him. He goes to his house, and you see his dad standing in the shadows, cloaked in darkness. The way they build it up you know he’s going to be somebody, you know that the film wants you to react to him stepping out with a “holy shit”. Importantly, you know it’s going to be someone you recognise. But you’ve seen all the big actors who were mentioned in the opening credits. So I was sitting there thinking if there’s anyone I missed. And then out of the shadows steps……..

Morgan Freeman.

Probably the best positive response I’ve seen to a single moment in the cinema this year. I’ve heard people cry, I’ve heard people be visibly impressed, but that’s the closest I’ve felt to the traditional American At Cinema moment of cheering. It worries that some versions of the poster have him on it, as it ruins the surprise.

It’s possible my experience was helped by being at a relatively enthusiastic crowd. There weren’t many people there, but the ones who were made themselves known (not in an obnoxious way). Maybe if I saw it on my own I wouldn’t have liked it as much, but I can’t really test that hypothesis without watching it at home alone.

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