Film Critic

Chuck Koplinski is The News-Gazette's film critic. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com and you can follow him on Twitter (@ckoplinski).

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The COVID-19 pandemic made us miss many things we came to take for granted. Obviously, I missed going to the movies for many reasons.

The spectacle that can only be achieved by seeing a film on a screen three stories tall and five stories wide, the feeling of energy that’s generated from a crowd eager to take in a big-screen epic and the quiet that overcomes a large audience when greeted with a moving moment were all things I longed for while cinemas were locked down. And need I mention the popcorn?

You know what I haven’t missed? Bloated action movies that don’t have a single original idea, containing nothing but a plethora of rote action sequences that are supposed to pass for entertainment. Case in point: “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” a needless sequel that brutally reminded me of how vacuous a film can be and how so many millions of dollars could be so senselessly wasted.

Ryan Reynolds returns as Michael Bryce, a disgraced bodyguard who this time is roped into helping not only his former client, assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), but also Kincaid’s foul-mouthed wife, Sonia (Salma Hayek).

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Evil mastermind Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas — yes, Antonio Banderas playing a flamboyant Greek megalomaniac) is intent on wiping out all of Europe’s internet databases. The reason? Got me! It’s vaguely mentioned in some passing fashion, which indicates just how important it is to the movie.

Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo) is on his tail but can’t get help from his superiors because he’s a maverick, a wild card who does things his way! Circumstances lead him to the bickering central trio, whom he promptly arrests and coerces, through the threat of extended jail time, into helping him bring down Papadopoulos.

A prime example of lowest-

common-denominator entertainment, the writing — a term I’m using very loosely here — by Brandon Murphy and Tom O’Connor is nothing but a collection of tired action scenes that director Patrick Hughes seems to think can be made fresh by rendering them in the loudest possible manner. That it doesn’t begin with a warning that bleeding ears may be the result of sitting through it is the height of irresponsibility.

Between explosions, what passes for dialogue consists of constant use of the F-bomb, indicating this is not a movie as much as a drinking game; serious inebriation would result in a half-hour if a shot were taken every time everyone’s favorite expletive is spat out.

Nobody in the cast breaks a sweat. Jackson glowers and cusses, Hayek does her best to stay contained in her skimpy outfits and Reynolds continues his faux-innocence act, his passive-aggressive sense of snark his only defense. Oh, and Morgan Freeman shows up, too. He must need the money.

The mediocrity is exhausting. As every “been there, done that” moment played out, I slipped deeper into a funk, reminded of all that’s wrong with so many films of this sort.

Thank-you, “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” for reminding me of all I hate about big-budget action films. My longing for a return to the theater is officially over. I didn’t realize how good I had it when they were shuttered.

For DVR alerts, film recommendations and movie news, follow Koplinski on Twitter @ckoplinski. His email is chuckkoplinski@gmail.com.

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