The TMINE multiplex: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Tango & Cash and Road House

In which Nat talks briefly about the movies she’s been watching this week for no particular reason and that probably don’t warrant proper reviews, but hey? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all chatted about them anyway?

I’m really hoping this feature will take off. What do you think? Is it catchy enough?

This week, we have three screens playing The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021), Tango & Cash (1989) and Road House (1989)

Screen 1: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (2021)

The bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) continues his friendship with assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) as they try to save Darius’ wife Sonia (Salma Hayek)

Nat says: ‘Oh dear. Oh wait! Oh, never mind’

This is a sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017). I’m not sure anyone really wanted a sequel, since it was quite a bad movie, the sort of film that feels like an investment opportunity put together by asset management funds in Benelux and the Bahamas to give terrorists a chance to avoid paying taxes. But here it is, reuniting the cast and the director.

The first half is dreadful. It tries hard to recreate the same scenario as the first movie, with Reynolds and Jackson now hating one another again, without really understanding the characters. There are fewer jokes, the action is poor and even the usually reliable cast struggle to give the movie life. It has Antonio Banderas playing a Greek man who’s upset with the EU’s treatment of his country so kidnaps its ‘leader’. Every so often, it cuts to a picture of ‘Athens’ that usually isn’t (but sometimes is) Athens. It’s just poor.

I also really dislike it, since most of the jokes are about Hayek being both a sexual women and one who swears a lot. Look at here run! Look at her breasts wobble! Isn’t that funny? Women running? Women with big breasts running?

Did the world just stop turning on its axis, beholding such innovation in writing? I don’t think so.

About halfway through, though, just as I was about to give up on it, the movie decides it wants to be something different: a flat-out comedy. Suddenly, it’s just Reynolds being Deadpool again. There are jokes about what sort of movie they’re homaging. Reynolds’ much-alluded-to father is revealed to be (spoiler alert) Morgan Freeman and Samuel L Jackson’s reaction to that piece of hubris is priceless. It actually all starts to work and to entertain.

But should you watch it, just so you can watch that second half? No.

The wonderful Rebecca Front appears in it a bit. She’s funny. But her scenes are all in the trailer, too.

Screen 2: Tango & Cash (1989)

Framed by their ruthless arch-nemesis, a mismatched LAPD crime-fighting duo has to put its differences aside to even the score with the evil kingpin who put them behind bars once and for all.

Nat says: ‘Where did she get that hat? I want it!’

I really do hate 80s movies. There are a few classics, of course, but most movies were like Tango & Cash. It fits in with the general Joel Silver canon of the late 80s, which most people know includes Die Hard and Lethal Weapon but most people forget also includes this, Action Jackson and the next film on my list, Road House. They’re all terrible, too.

This has the air of the first episode of the third season of a really awful US TV show. Tango and Cash (Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell – or maybe it’s the other way round) are mismatched cops whom everyone in Los Angeles knows about and follows in the papers like they’re celebrities. They’re both awful human beings but we’re not supposed to notice that.

Their arch nemesis (who presumably has been gnashing his teeth in shadows at the end of every other episode for the past two seasons) finally comes out of the dark in this episode to frame them. He goes to extraordinary lengths to explain to his bad guy friends why they need to frame rather than kill them. They don’t buy his explanation either.

After our very, very stupid introduction to the characters that makes modern day stupidity such as The Fast and the Furious look like a finalist in University Challenge, they’re quickly packaged off to prison. Now I have to admit, I was impressed by the amount of male nudity here, particularly among the leads. It fit into that post-Schwarzenegger admiration for the built male body that you see in movies of the time, and that went into retreat in the 90s when people realised that gay men might be watching too. That was, at least, the movie’s highlight for me, other than a young Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives)’s killer 80s styling.

Teri Hatcher in Tango and Cash

Other than that, it’s just awful, filled with homophobia and gratuitous female toplessness (no, Sylvester Stallone’s arse doesn’t cancel that out).

Screen 3: Road House (1989)

A tough bouncer is hired to tame a dirty bar.

Nat says: ‘Where did she get that dress? I definitely don’t want it’

I feel a little bit more favourable towards Road House. It does make slightly more sense than Tango & Cash. Patrick Swayze is a better actor than either Stallone or Russell. It’s also quite strange to watch a Rust Belt action movie of the 80s: you don’t really get many action films set in small towns and that are concerned about small town problems, except if it’s about the local sheriff fighting corruption or being corrupt. Arguably, more films should be at this small scale, rather than the world-destroying level we’re at now.

But… it’s horrible, too.

It’s attitude towards women is horrible. There seems to be a topless woman every other scene, being used for some purpose (“Pay me $20 and you can feel her tits”), either by a character or by the movie’s director. That 80s homophobia is there, with the evil antagonist screaming “I used to f*ck guys like you in prison”, which is just enough motivation for Swayze to rip his throat out.

Also, just like Tango & Cash, Lethal Weapon and a whole bunch of other 80s movies, it’s under the mistaken impression that there’s something sexy, rather than unhygienic, about a man who doesn’t wear underpants.

(Be positive, Nat. Be positive. That’s why you’re here. Apparently)

I did enjoy this weird parallel universe, though, where bouncers are superstars. Everyone knows about Swayze from his reputation, even though he’s never been to this town (“Oh my God, it’s Dalton!”). He turns up at the bar and he already knows the band and they know him. He can command whatever price he wants to clean up a bar that probably has really quite small margins. When the whiskey runs out because someone’s putting pressure on the wholesaler, he has an alternative supplier he can dial up in an instant.

The attempts to give him depth are amusing, at least. He has a degree in philosophy and reads noted American authors in the evening, then wakes up in the morning to do glistening, topless t’ai chi. He also tries to avoid violence at all costs, shortly before doing some balletic martial arts (it genuinely is more like ballet than actual karate).

Again, though, I have to say, the minuses very much outweigh the positives, so unless you love the 80s as much as my husband apparently does, steer clear of Road House.

Author

  • Russian ballerina-assassin. Sworn enemy of Western capitalism and recidivist kulaks. Scarlett Johansson look-alike. TMINE's publisher and Official Movie Reviewer in Residence. I've written for numerous magazines, including Death Ray and Filmstar, and I've been a contributor to TMINE since I was at university and first discovered I really wanted to write about movies, oh so many years ago. Sob.