'Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard' Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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'Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard' Review

Alexander Wallace goes on another mission.
I remember once reading in Harry Turtledove’s novel How Few Remain a German character remarking how Americans don’t have their word for ‘Schadenfreude,’ but they certainly have the concept (I’d argue we’ve pilfered the term, as we have so many terms from other languages). It is a scene I think of whenever I consider the 2017 film The Hitman’s Bodyguard, directed by Patrick Hughes, which existed solely for the purpose of putting Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, and Salma Hayek in the same movie. Being someone who enjoys those actors, I quite enjoyed that film. Now, we turn our attention to its sequel, released in June 2021: Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.

The sense of humor in this film is, to put it bluntly, sociopathic. Truth be told, my sense of humor is somewhat sociopathic, so I thought it was uproariously funny. A great many people die, or are otherwise grievously harmed, and this is presented as amusing. It is is gallows humor as Maximilien Robespierre would write it, revelling in the ending of life. I laughed loudly, but I would understand if the reader would not.

This humor is deployed in conjunction with frankly insane action, going beyond things like ‘reason’ or ‘logic’ or ‘taste’ or ‘the laws of physics.’ As an action movie, this film succeeds just as its predecessor did, giving you zaniness as the classics of the genre provide in spades.

But underneath all that, in spite of its obvious forms of entertaining the viewership, there is very real character work in this film that, like its predecessor, forms what is really the best part of the movie. The plot kicks off when Michael Bryce (Reynolds) loses his license as a bodyguard, and tries to get away from that bloody, alienating world. But his job comes roaring back when Sonia Kincaid (Hayek) contacts him (quite spectacularly) when her husband Darius (Jackson) has been kidnapped by one of his enemies. The teeth-clenched relationship between Darius and Michael returns with a vengeance, with real if reluctant respect beneath surface mutual dislike.

Likewise, despite all their barbs and the killing that occurs throughout the film, you really do come to believe that Darius and Sonia love each other. They have an odd love language, sometimes expressed by killing people together, but it’s very real. Sonia’s love for her husband drives much of the plot, and she is willing to go through so much to see that her beloved is freed.

I won’t spoil it by going into much detail, but there are other relationships here that end up compelling. The theme running through all of them, and the movie as a whole, is the conflict between the desire to have a normal life with commonplace joys like love and the brutal, totalizing nature of the mercenary job. Under all the quipping, it really does hurt people (other than in the obvious ways).

I disagree with the critics: Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is, like its predecessor, a far more sophisticated film than many give it credit for. It is outstandingly funny, brutally violent, and yet with a real emotional core that many films just don’t have. If you have a stomach for schadenfreude, it’s a lot of fun.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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