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With 'The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard', it's not the characters that need saving; it's the audience

Fans of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Salma Hayek should seek out one of their other movies instead.
Credit: Lionsgate

ST. LOUIS — "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" is a busy movie, almost as busy as its title. If you ever walked into a movie theater with a desire for recycled jokes and actors cashing paychecks right before your eyes on the big screen, this film is the one for you.

A sequel that the people demanded... sort of. "The Hitman's Bodyguard" did very well overseas while performing modestly in the states, which means it made Denzel Washington star-vehicle money. Not bad for one and done, but something you can store in the "forced laughs" room of the cinema house.

There's nothing new here, only a tiresomely long adventure that goes on for 95 minutes technically, even if it feels more like two and a half hours. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are back as the bodyguard and hitman who respectively hate each other. Salma Hayek generates a few lunacy laughs, but her offerings grow tired by the one-hour mark. Director Patrick Hughes doesn't have a problem generating sensory overload for the audience, but substance is the thing that went missing here. Even a trace of it.

Do we really need to go over the plot? Antonio Banderas' mad man loves him some Greece, so he wants to take out Europe and bring power back to the Greeks... or something like that. The annoying trio must stop him, all the while getting in the way of an Interpol agent (Frank Grillo) and stepping on each other's toes every five minutes.

The real casualty here is the script. There's little new included in this batch of words and actions. It's stuffed with frat boy humor and enough profanity to even make Quentin Tarantino blush. It's the kind of cursing that a teenager does when he or she desperately wants attention and doesn't know any other way to get it. The result is a series of sporadic laughs mixed in with repetitive violence and plot twists that can be seen from a mile away.

At one point, Morgan Freeman (who is in every other movie and commercial these days) shows up to liven things up. But even one of the greatest actors of our time can't do much more than generate unintentional laughs when he shares a fight scene with Reynolds. I'm not kidding.

The two leads do their best to enhance the material, but it's too tall of an order. Jackson is in cruise control mode, and Reynolds' delicate joke delivery can't lift up a screenplay with three different sets of hands on it. I am guessing this was an instance where the writers passed the laptop around while watching "Drunk History."

Is it a complete waste of time? No. If there's a rainy night with a Redbox in your path, pick this one up and pair it with some good pizza and wine. If there's one thing that can lift up a bad movie, it's a fine meal.

Otherwise, "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard" is a pure waste of time and money. It makes you think back sadly to a day and age where sequels weren't a given.

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