Lamebrained ‘Bodyguard’ sequel neither exciting nor funny

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“The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” is the sort of lamebrained film in which the main character yells (without an ounce of irony), “If we don’t stop the drill, they’ll upload the virus and destroy Europe!” It is also the sort of misbegotten sequel nobody asked for and likely exists as a paycheck and tax-sheltered European vacation for its cast. As the milieus hopscotch from northern Italy to Croatia, Bulgaria, and the UK, the lead actors occasionally emerge from whatever seaside bungalow or luxe hotel they’re being put up in to wander in front of a camera, yammer some dumb dialogue, then return in time for vino tarda notte.

Director Patrick Hughes — who hasn’t made a feature film since 2017’s “Hitman’s Bodyguard” (if that tells you anything) — and screenwriter Tom O’Connor recycle many of the same forgettable plot points as the last movie, whose central sin is that it managed to turn a tidy enough profit to green light a sequel. Michael Byrce (Ryan Reynolds) is still a defrocked bodyguard, stripped of his coveted triple-A license rating (whatever that is) and on a shrink-suggested sabbatical to Capri — ”Like the pants,” the script says twice, the sort of giggles we’re dealing with here. It is there that Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek) pops up in Michael’s face and starts screaming obscenities, recruiting him to help rescue her kidnapped husband, notorious hitman and Michael’s nemesis Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson).

Once the guns start blazing — and it doesn’t take long — the trio are conscripted into the service of a harried Boston Interpol agent (sure, why not?) to halt a cyber attack against the EU by Greek supervillain Aristotle Papadopoulous, played by Antonio Banderas stubbornly sans any sort of Greek accent. Aristotle and Sonia share a past, which nicely alludes to Banderas and Hayek’s long-standing screen partnership and not-so-neatly cribs the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell film “Overboard,” which is pedantically referenced to avoid accusations of pilfering. I won’t spoil Morgan Freeman’s role, but suffice it to say that the sole comedic contribution asked of him is his race.

This is an action comedy that is neither exciting nor funny — one car chase actually includes the proverbial barreling through a fruit stand. Aristotle’s scheme involves using a giant diamond drill to hack Europe’s oceanic cyberdata junction box. And if that sounds inane enough, try filtering it through a nonstop torrent of profanity from a paunchy Jackson and Hayak haranguing about her boobs. Reynolds never gets out of his trademark smart-alecky gear, which admittedly accounts for the film’s lone laughs but can’t carry this calamity.

Let’s just pray Darius and Sonia don’t have any children or otherwise we might be in for “The Hitman’s Wife’s Kid’s Bodyguard.”

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