‘The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’ reloads the silliness with a bigger role for Salma Hayek

The mere existence of “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” — a sequel to the 2017 movie, adding “Wife’s” to the title — suggests that action-comedy enjoyed a long shelf-life, which is clearly the hope for its equally disposable sequel. An expanded role for Salma Hayek is the newish wrinkle here, although that’s hardly cause for an encore, or even an extra apostrophe.

The opportunity to reprise these roles has come with a larger canvass, with the sequel feeling more like the mashup of a James Bond movie — only with a lot more F-bombs — and a more conventional, wildly broad buddy action comedy.

At its core, the plot again merely serves as an excuse to throw hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) back together with bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), in a globetrotting adventure involving Interpol, and this time a massive threat to all of Europe.

Bryce is actually nursing some emotional baggage when the movie begins, following a therapist’s advice to take a sabbatical while vowing, “I’m not doing guns right now.” But of course, there’s no movie in that, so he’s quickly whisked off by Darius’ wife Sonia (Hayek), who informs him that her husband has been captured by the Mafia and that she needs his help.

The rescue mission goes pretty quickly, but it serves the purpose of putting the three together, before an Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) hatches the questionable idea of enlisting them to help thwart a plot against the European Union orchestrated by a Greek tycoon named Aristotle (Antonio Banderas), who might as well be named Blofeld and petting a white cat.

Kincaid and Bryce again bicker constantly, as the former tries to mollify the easily riled Sonia, and the latter frets about having lost his private-protection license, while deadpanning one-liners in fast and furious fashion.

The talent involved almost can’t help but produce some amusing moments, and Hayek throws her all into an expanded presence that allows her to curse and kill every bit as much as the guys, while taking lethal offense if anyone dares mention her age. Whatever success the original enjoyed has added to the producers’ toolbox, including cameos by Morgan Freeman and (inexplicably in terms of its brevity) Richard E. Grant.

Again directed by Patrick Hughes, the movie mostly seems determined to race from one shootout or chase to the next — presenting a less-ostentatious version of what moviegoers will be offered in “F9” in a few weeks, only with a bit more bloodshed and several dozen more expletives.

Charitably, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” represents the kind of unpretentious diversion that audiences can use as they venture out, in a summer where calling something “silly” sounds less pejorative. For all that, it really should be more fun than it is.

The original was a modest box-office hit, meaning its post-theatrical legs facilitated this return engagement. If you stumbled across the first one in the comfort of home and for whatever reason enjoyed it, rest assured nothing would lose much by waiting for the sequel to join it there.

“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” will preview in US theaters on June 11 and 12 before opening wide on June 16. It’s rated R.


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