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When you throw down a hit like 2018’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard, it’s almost assured that a sequel is going to be in the works. It didn’t take long for director Patrick Hughes’ foul-mouthed action fun fest to find itself greenlit for a follow-up that could have either been a blessing or a curse on the franchise that built itself on Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds putting each other in danger. Leaning more into the comedy side of the balancing act, and giving Salma Hayek a more central role are just two of the reasons why The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard happens to exceed the success of its predecessor. What results is an hysterically explosive comedy that’s harder, better, faster and sillier.

Still traumatized by the events of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and still under review for reinstatement as a AAA-certified bodyguard, Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is in therapy and overdue for a vacation. Much as the audience would come to expect, that rest and relaxation was never in the cards, as Sofia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) snags Michael back into action, kicking and screaming. In true sequel fashion, everything is on the line in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, as a scheming villain (Antonio Banderas) wants to plunge Europe into anarchy, Sofia and Darius (Samuel L. Jackson) are trying to have a baby, and Michael just wants to be loved and allowed to finish reading The Secret.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard allows comedy to take the driver’s seat, while still providing some fast-paced action.

During the first time around in The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s universe, the events of the first film definitely felt heavier on the action half of action-comedy spectrum. While that certainly worked, it always felt like the comedy piece to the puzzle could have stood to gain some more momentum, especially with a cast as funny as the one assembled here. That wish is granted in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, as the sequel goes all out with its jokes.

The ante is certainly upped, both in terms of the jokes that are built into the dialogue, as well as the action set pieces that director Patrick Hughes sets into motion. But while the explosions and car chases in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard do hit harder than those in the previous film, there’s an anarchic energy that sets the tone closer to that of a spoof of the sort of movie this is supposed to represent. While the overall plot of the villain is, yet again, pushed into the background, that doesn't rob the overall narrative of its charms.

Salma Hayek steals the show from Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, while the trio make an impressive overall team.

If Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson’s energies didn’t work in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, the movie would have been doomed from the start. So throwing their talents together again is clearly a formula that works, as Michael and Darius still have problems after almost four years apart. However, Salma Hayek’s Sofia is the secret weapon, as she gets to shine in a more central role.

Getting to arm up, go undercover, and spew even more profuse obscenities than before, Sofia drives a lot of what makes The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard shine. Boosting the energy in any scene she shares with any of her co-stars, Hayek fuels the engine for this second time charmer to a great extent. The machinery gets to work a little better thanks to her part in the central team of actors, and with fellow scene stealers like Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman on deck in supporting roles, the expanded roster only helps make this central trio an impressive overall team.

Leaving everything on the field, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is an over-the-top love letter to violence, profanity, and pop music.

It’s already hard enough to sell an R-rated comedy, but making a sequel to that sort of film is even more difficult in the grand scheme of things. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard shows that this potentially continuing series is determined to bring spectacle back to the R-rated action comedy. And what’s more, the talent behind returning the audience into the world of Michael Bryce and the Kincaids are up to the challenge of hitting everyone with as many f-bombs and incendiary devices as possible, one more time.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is every bit as fun as advertised; nothing more and nothing less. But even that is thanks to the over-the-top enthusiasm shared by all to leave everything on the field. If you’re ready to see the same sort of template that laid the groundwork for this series get a little sillier, with more property damage left in its wake, you should have no problem smiling through this fast-paced comedy thriller.

7 / 10 stars
Rating: movie reviewed star rating out of five
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