[tacticool]Choosing the Perfect Weapon for a Movie Assassin: On Set With The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

  In an R-rated action movie like The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, there are, naturally, a lot of guns. Everyone’s packing, from Ryan Reynolds’ professional(ish) bodyguard, Michael Bryce, to Salma Hayek’s Sonia Kincaid, the wife to which the title refers. As such, it’s no surprise that when I visited the movie’s set in London back in March 2019, the first thing I was shown was a table full of guns.

  From an FN Minimi to a Scorpion submachine gun, to a pair of Wildey .45 Winchester Magnums, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard has a fully-stocked arsenal. These are overseen by Sam Dormer, supervising armourer on the set, who carefully reminds me that “all of these on the table are real weapons,” just modified to fire blank ammunition.

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  Dormer helped director Patrick Hughes select the right guns for each of the movie’s characters, matching their form and function to each personality. “For instance, Zento [played by Kristofer Kamiyasu], he’s one of the best assassins in the world, so we’ve given him a very modern kit,” explains Dormer. He holds up a Glock 17 handgun that’s slotted into a FAB Defence; a polymer skeleton that turns the pistol into something approaching a miniature rifle. It’s the kind of set-up that the word ‘tacticool’ was invented for. “It looks something a little bit different, something very modern, something that he’d have,” Dormer says.

  Have you seen The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard?

  Kamiyasu’s top-class assassin is in direct contrast to Samuel L. Jackson’s Darius Kincaid, who is more of an old dog when it comes to weapon choices. “Kincaid actually has an old revolver,” says Dormer, pointing out a huge Smith & Wesson six-shooter. “And so you’ve got a very modern versus a very old-school way of doing things.”

  “Sam’s done a lot of action movies, so he makes my job very easy,” notes Dormer. “I can just hand him a weapon and say, ‘It’s loaded, do your thing.’”

  Is it any surprise Jackson knows exactly what to do with a loaded handgun? A huge part of the actor’s filmography is, like The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, R-rated and filled to the brim with violence and coarse language. “I enjoy [R-rated movies] because I grew up watching them,” Jackson tells me. “And I like movies where characters are profane, and they talk about how they feel. They talk about what’s happening to them at the moment. And these kinds of people don’t recite poetry. They do what they do. They’re also very dangerous people, they live on the edges of lawlessness. It makes them colorful.”

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  Talking of colorful characters, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard’s villain is an ostentatious shipping tycoon called Aristotle Papadopoulos, played by Antonio Banderas. “Being the sort of multi-billionaire, extravagant man he is, he has some pistols,” says Dormer, pointing to a pair of brutish-looking Wildey .45 Magnum handguns, plated in engraved chrome. “When this fires, it shakes the roof of the studio. And we’ve had these custom grips made for him in blue and pearl to reflect his Greek heritage. Obviously, with all the engraving and everything, it’s his character incarnate in a gun.”

  Banderas has a history of getting into the thick of it in action movies – Desperado comes immediately to mind when it comes to gunfights – but he’s taken a step back here. “When I was in my thirties or even in my twenties, I used to love to do action scenes,” he tells me. “I think I am good with body language, and I love movies like Desperado and Zorro. But as the years go by, I try to be as much away from the action as possible. So we use doubles, and then you just pop the acting in the middle of it. So it’s actually like embroidering the character and putting together a puzzle.”

  Doubles may be on-set to do the more rigorous work, but I get to see Banderas push one of those Wildey pistols in Jackson’s face. It’s safe to say he’s not lost any of his El Mariachi style when it comes to wielding a massive handcannon.

  Not on set is Ryan Reynolds, but Dormer is still able to show me his signature weapon, which keeps continuity from the original film. “In the first movie, Bryce had a SIG P232, so we’ve brought that back,” Dormer explains, pointing out a very compact silver pistol that’s nearly identical to Bond’s famous Walther PPK.

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  But this time around, there is a quirk. “Because he’s in a fight with Senior, his father [played by Morgan Freeman], we’ve given Senior the same 232, but in black,” Dormer says. “This reflects the dark side versus the light side of the personalities. The good and the bad.” Essentially, this pairing is the blue/red lightsabers of the Hitman’s Bodyguard universe.

  That leaves us with Salma Hayek’s Sonia, who – as the team’s loose cannon – gets one of the most aggressive weapons on display. “She’s taking on a lot of thugs, a lot of Russians, a lot of all sorts of people,” Dormer says. “So we gave her a CZ Scorpion EVO 3. This is a 9mm submachine gun, so she can just blast away at the bad guys with this throughout the whole first part of the movie, and do a bit of damage with it.”

  Hayek is particularly thrilled that, this time around, she gets to be a main player in the heat of the action. “I came in super excited that there is a woman who’s fighting with [Bryce and Kincaid] and they’re going through the adventure together,” she says.

  But it wasn’t just the opportunity of playing a kick-ass action star that drew Hayek back for the sequel. “It’s different, because this is a story of a marriage and of a family,” she explains, referring to Sonia’s long-term relationship with Jackson’s Darius. “And that’s not so common in action films for women. Sometimes they are there, but they’re not someone’s wife. It’s not about their love story, or the typical love story of how people meet and get together. This is about how people stay together in the middle of all this chaos, and how we become a family.”

  As they say, the assassins that assassinate together, stay together. Or something like that.

  The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is available to watch in theatres now. Check out our review and a clip from the movie.

  Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer.

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