The latest entry on the list of unwarranted sequels to successful movies sees the return of Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson and Salma Hayek. Also in repeat mode are director Patrick Hughes and writer Tom O’Connor, this time working with two other writers to pile on A-rated comedy and ultraviolence.

Reynolds’s bureaucratic bodyguard Michael Bryce was last seen embracing his unlikely friendship with ruthless hitman Darius Kincaid but now appears to have forgotten the moment. Haunted by his association with Darius as well as his revoked work licence, Michael attempts to take a break, only to be yanked back into mayhem by Darius’s volatile wife Sonia.

Played by Hayek at full volume and fulsome cleavage, Sonia ropes in Michael to rescue Darius from the clutches of an old rival. Before you can say “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”, the trio get sucked into a mission to foil Greek businessman Aristotle’s dastardly plan to cripple Europe as revenge for the economic sanctions imposed against his country.

Some things haven’t changed. Other elements are heightened. Michael remains obsessed with a “Triple AAA” rating for his protection services, Interpol still has a female boss and is as inefficient as ever. The new villain too has a generic Continental accent, while the CGI-assisted destruction of various European tourist traps continues unabated.

A catalyst for Darius’s actions in the first movie, Sonia gets a starring role in the follow-up film that does her no favours. Perennially sexualised and heavily stereotyped, the Spanish-gabbing Sonia only underlines the “boys will be boys” quality of both films.

Antonio Banderas is suitably sinister as the Greek adversary, but the show belongs to the Reynolds-Jackson blood-splattered tango. Benefiting from a repeat performance of their excellent chemistry, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is rescued from being irredeemably brain-numbing by the comic timing of these gents.

Seething with elaborately choreographed gunfights and hectic car chases, the movie makes room for a cameo by Morgan Freeman. It fits right into the proudly illogical plot but is also a sign of despair. The first film from 2017 benefitted from the element of surprise (Reynolds as an action hero, Jackson as a hopeless romantic). Sonia’s plans for motherhood don’t quite cut it this time round, but weirdly complements the laboured sequel.

The gratuitous profanity is back too, but with a rider. Your mouth needs an exorcism, Michael tells Sonia. Indian censors have agreed. Darius’s favourite swear word – also Samuel L Jackson’s signature insult – has been assiduously bleeped out by the Central Board of Film Certification. How’s that for a surprise?

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021).