Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Directed by Patrick Hughes

Screenplay by Tom O’Connor, Brandon Murphy, Phillip Murphy

Story by Tom O’Connor based on Characters by Tom O’Connor

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Antonio Banderas, Morgan Freeman

There was a time that you could throw any movie in front of me and I was guaranteed to like it.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” was no exception. It was balls-to-the-walls, bordering on orgasmic in its humor. Ryan Reynolds’ Michael Bryce sold me on the character alone. (Actually, I don’t mind his screen presence one bit, but that’s for another review.) That’s on the surface.

Then, like Michael Bryce, I had an intervention and it’s called “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”

Truth be told, the intervention didn’t quite take hold – I’ll still respect Ryan Reynolds in the morning.

It’s the rest of this mess of a movie that I’m not so keen on. I suppose love is never clean.

But, like putting a movie in front of me two or three years ago, director Patrick Hughes took every page from the “Looney Toons” and “Tom and Jerry” stable, mixed it with a bit of “The Flintstones” for a bit of fun, frapped it and saw what stuck to the wall.

Huh . . . . I guess I didn’t put that connection together until just now.

“Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” starts with an unlicensed Michael Bryce, having lost a client in the line of duty, then adds the layer of a former nemesis, Darius Kincaid (Jackson), being held up and his wife’s (Hayek) attempts to get Michael to help her (even though she is gung-ho!). I have to give Reynolds credit in that, even as he is trying to walk a straight and narrow path, the sparkle in his eyes as he’s trying to convince . . .  connive? . . . his therapist into believing that he’s making progress, he still craves the insatiable need to be wanted.

That’s the crux of “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”: we all need to be wanted and needed at some point in our lives. It just takes Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek to remember what it means to be alive, perhaps to be free, even though a good portion of the film has our heroes stuck captive in some way, shape, or form.

For good measure, Antonio Banderas plays the plasticky Aristotle Papadopulous, who is deliciously cartoonish in the vein of Mr. Slate as he hatches a nefarious plan to destabilize Europe. Morgan Freeman adds to the fray playing Michael Bryce, Sr in a scene that I, initially, didn’t think worked, but the more I think about it, the funnier it is. Finally, “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” plays as well as “RED 2” – it has that dark comic book feel that perhaps audiences are craving after being sheltered for a year. It is chock-full of characters who overlap each other, like Frank Grillo’s Bobby O’Neill looking for a meal ticket home if he can impress the boss. Or Richard E. Grant returning as his character from the first film; they both serve as window dressing as characters that, perhaps, belong to Disney’s “Cruella” as much as they belong here.

The film’s one redeeming quality is in its look. It is sleek and stylish while also being picturesque. Terry Stacey’s cinematography adds a rich layer on top of the cacophony of bullets sprayed all over the Italian countryside.

When I walked out of the theater, I was chuffed, incensed really, over “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” and its existence. On the surface, it was just too much. I was turned off. Then I got to thinking about what it had to say, and while I belabor the idea of yet another sequel to a film that stood well enough on its own, I confess that “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is not nearly as bad as I thought it was.

Then I thought about the fact that I could laugh at how un-PC the film is within its four-walled PC’isms; that it is okay to accept that sometimes a film has to be un-PC for the world to see just how fast we’re moving. And, sometimes, it’s okay to take a step back, reassess the situation and accept “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” for what it is – over-the-top mayhem at its finest, yet lowest point.

R, 99 minutes, Lionsgate