One of the world’s most successful hitmen shows no signs of losing his touch. Victor Maynard is the man that people rely on to ‘eliminate’ problems, no matter how public. Enter Rose, a small-time thief who decides to try for a huge take by selling a fake piece of art to a crime boss. When the paint comes off the artwork, he hires Maynard to take out Rose and recover his money. As he begins to pursue her, he finds a challenge at every turn, from the presence of witnesses to physical barriers to failed timing. When he finally corners her in a parking garage, another hitman pops out of the shadows causing Maynard to go from hitman to protector. As both of them are held at gunpoint, a random bystander who has witnessed the whole ordeal gets mixed in the fray and gets away with Maynard and Rose. On the run, Maynard takes on the task of protecting Rose from her pursuers while trying to conceal his identity as a hitman.
Starring: Bill Nighy (Victor Maynard), Emily Blunt (Rose), Rupert Grint (Tony), Rupert Everett (Ferguson), Eileen Atkins (Louisa Maynard), Martin Freeman (Hector Dixon), Gregor Fisher (Mike), Geoff Bell (Fabian)
This British comedy has a great cast with a great understanding of comedic timing. Bill Nighy (from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) may seem like a complete professional but exhibits a great internal struggle of completing the job and dealing with his infatuation with his target. Emily Blunt is probably the most recognizable of the cast members due to her exposure in American hits The Devil Wears Prada and The Adjustment Bureau. She has a great range but focuses on aloof, flirty and irresponsible in her main interactions with Nighy’s character. While she creates the conflict, her insight helps to reveal some limitations in Nighy’s perception of his life. Rupert Grint plays the unaware Tony, whose character simply gets caught up in the mess with no previous interactions with any of the characters. Eileen Atkins serves as Nighy’s overbearing mother who wants to push her son to elite hitman status. Gregor Fisher provides another element of humor through a more slapstick sort of style, getting shot, losing an ear and driving carelessly through the city streets.
Jonathan Lynn has been responsible for a number of enjoyable classic comedies, including Clue, My Cousin Vinny and The Whole Nine Yards. Each of these films have their quirky elements that made them so enjoyable. In Wild Target, Maynard and Rose have a variable chemistry to provide a love-hate relationship that never really has to find its balance until the end of the film. Structured in a way to use dialogue to overtake action, scenes like the parking garage, fight in the bathroom and car chase have elements of action and conclude with a daring escape but are truly driven by the banter. While Rose gets portrayed as incredibly selfish and manipulative, Lynn provides a set of experience that allow her to adjust her perspective the longer she stays in hiding. The mentor relationship Maynard has with Tony may be one of the weaker elements to the story, but Tony’s “natural killer” behaviors help to solidify him as the son Maynard seems to miss out on.
There was not a huge reception for this film and the critics did not seem to care much for its presentation. While it would probably have gotten lost in American theaters among all of the unimaginative sequels and blockbuster hits, it definitely is great as a cute crime comedy with enjoyable characters and charming twists and turns.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5