“HITMAN’S WIFE’S” VIOLENT CAPER; FALL OF “THE HUSTLER”

HITMAN’S WIFE’S” VIOLENT CAPER; FALL OF “THE HUSTLER”

A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD” (RATED R) Prior to “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” there was “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” and what one needs to know about the original to fathom the sequel is that Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson make for a lethal bickering odd couple and Salma Hayek is now thrown into the mix in a big way. As a bodyguard, Reynolds’ Michael Bryce once took a bullet for Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, an unhinged, profane loudmouth and murdering hitman who fails to express any gratitude for his life being saved.Meanwhile, as the film opens, Bryce dreams of winning the Bodyguard of the Year award, but in truth he lost his Triple-A rating during a botched job. Now he’s seeing a therapist who can’t stand him and insists he take a sabbatical in Italy if only to get him off her couch.

Poolside tranquility is quickly disrupted for Bryce when Kincaid’s wife Sonia (Hayek), an insane con artist quick to anger and quick on the trigger, shows up with guns blazing and insists that Bryce is urgently needed to rescue her husband from Mafia kidnappers.While leaving phone messages for his future rehabilitated self, the present day for Bryce becomes very much consumed with a host of problems that his quick wit and self-deprecating humor will fail to make any less troublesome.The drawbacks of being engaged by the volatile Sonia include dealing with Italian mobsters and Russian gangsters, detonating briefcases, car chases, shootouts, bar brawls, explosions and even a little light torture.

For all of Bryce’s dubious past and Darius’ murderous history and prison stints, Interpol for reasons only convenient to the semblance of a plot need their services to foil a megalomaniac Greek billionaire’s plot to cripple the European Union.Interpol agent Bobby O’Neill (Frank Grillo), a rule-breaker anxious to be reassigned back to Boston, figures his ticket out of Europe will be punched when Bryce and the Kincaids thwart tycoon Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas), a low-rent Bond villain.

Granted, there’s plenty of absurdity when the trio stir up endless pandemonium wherever they go, and then Morgan Freeman, of all people, shows up in a situation best left as a surprise.The surfeit of elaborate stunts and violent action and chase sequences veers perilously close to a point of tedium, or maybe it’s just too much of a good thing. But it is still mindlessly entertaining and the gorgeous European scenery adds a nice touch.The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” works best with the turbulent chemistry of the trio as the result of their comic banter and bickering mixed with senseless and wanton mayhem.

THE HOUSEWIFE AND THE HUSTLER” ON HULU

Real-life legal drama that involves celebrity figures can be even more interesting than fiction cooked up by masters of the genre like Steven Bochco (“L.A. Law”) or David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal).That looks to be case with the non-fiction melodrama streaming on Hulu, “The Housewife and the Hustler,” the former being Erika Jayne, a star of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” and her estranged husband and legal titan Tom Girardi.Once considered a crusader for justice, Girardi now stands accused of embezzling from the victims he swore to protect by engaging in what is being called a Ponzi scheme of taking money from clients for his own extravagant lifestyle and paying off other clients.

The obvious problem with a Ponzi scheme is that it is a house of cards destined to eventually collapse when the flow of money from courtroom victories of settlements slow to trickle or completely evaporate.Featuring interviews with former “Housewives” cast members Danielle Staub and Dana Wilkey, actress/comedian Heather McDonald, victims and legal experts, “The Housewife and the Hustler” follows the stream of documents and money.The documentary probes the trail to find out who was involved, how much they knew and who will pay for the alleged crimes, just as the latest season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” gets underway with Erika Jayne under the spotlight.A never-before-aired deposition tape of Tom Girardi, whose law license has been suspended, shows when the legal legend who said he once had tens of millions now admitted to a judge that his money was all gone.Voices from the Los Angeles legal world bring to life a charismatic mastermind – the “wizard behind the curtain,” as one subject said – whose lavish lifestyle was flaunted to viewers of Erika’s television show.

Erika, more than three decades Girardi’s junior, is apparently in the process of divorcing her husband, probably trying to hang on to any assets she may have that would otherwise be subject to restitution for aggrieved parties. Aside from the bounty of his mansion, fancy cars and private plane, the one interesting fact about Girardi is his big win against utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, a case that was the inspiration for the film “Erin Brockovich.”Let’s just say that there is no more winning for this once legal superstar.