There are times when even the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds in “this isn’t a Deadpool movie” mode and numerous clips of Salma Hayek in Latex cannot save a movie from an absolute pounding by the critics, and it seems that Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is one of those movies. The sequel to the unexpected 2017 box office smash, The Hitman’s Bodyguard isn’t released until next weekend in the U.S., but there are many early reviewers who have already taken it out with a sniper shot from a high window.
Not exactly a film that screams Oscars and highbrow, even with some acknowledging the movie isn’t aiming to be an intellectual ride that will go down in the history books as a stunning example of the craft, the reviews are still pretty scathing no matter how you turn them. With some suggesting that the movie is only better than its predecessor due to it having a shorter runtime, others claim that the movie doesn’t have one single laugh, and the rest are seemingly only just able to make it through the full movie, it is safe to say that it is probably not what the big name cast were exactly hoping for.
The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde, led the way saying, “Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard is a comedy with not one legitimate laugh, and an action movie where cars keep blowing up while the A-listers yell at each other, as though that were inherently amusing or entertaining.”
Jon Defore, of The Hollywood Reporter, didn’t pull any punches either. “[The screenwriters] display no interest in how credible characters – even cartoonishly exaggerated comic ones – might really behave under circumstances like these, which wouldn’t be so bad if the movie were funnier,” he said. “But its occasional laughs drown in a sea of action-comedy tropes that have been stale for decades. These actors deserve much better, and so do their fans.”
Derek Smith, for Slant, piled on the disappointment with a one star review. “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard improves on its predecessor only insofar as it runs 20 minutes shorter,” he moaned. “The sequel is as clunky as its title… It rests its laurels on the performances of its three leads, each of whom coast on their established personas.”
The title also came in for its own ribbing from Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, who said, “It’s a good thing the bodyguard didn’t have a dog.” Of the movie itself, he added, “The story scarcely pretends to add up to anything plausible or logical, and the ‘relationships’ often feel like they’ve been shaken and stirred in a blender of comic-book nonsense.”
A few did have a slightly more positive view of the movie. Deadline‘s Pete Hammond called it, “escapist summertime fodder”. While Matt Goldberg of Collider called it, “passably entertaining and instantly forgettable.” I think that sounds as good as it is going to get as far as the critics go. One point that did earn the distributor, Lionsgate, praise from Hammond, was their decision to put the movie out in theaters only as opposed to the cinema/streaming hybrid that many recent releases have stuck with. “Shout-out to Lionsgate for putting this exclusively in theatres on 16 June. As an excuse to help wake up the multiplex, we welcome anything,” he said.
With all this in mind, however, many people are desperate to get back into cinemas following months of lockdowns, and it would not be surprising to see the movie do well just on that basis alone. As Hammond said, anything is a good reason to take a trip to the movies right now and people may not be as discerning as they may have been in normal circumstances. The Hitman’s Bodyguard took $177 million back in 2017, and while the pandemic reopening may prevent the sequel from getting anywhere near that, it will still likely do reasonably well when it releases in the US on 16th June.