Review by Jack Foley
JONATHAN Lynne’s farcical hitman comedy Wild Target really ought to have been a great deal better than it is.
A remake of 1993 French comedy Cible Emouvante, the film boasts an appealing British cast (including Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Aileen Atkins) and an intriguing premise. But some lacklustre direction, failed chemistry and a poor script render it an implausible and ultimately tedious experience.
Nighy takes the lead role as eccentric middle-aged hitman Victor Maynard, whose rigid daily routine is unexpectedly thrown into chaos when he falls for his latest mark, kooky thief Rose (Blunt).
Turning protector instead, he subsequently hides her and a novice apprentice (Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint) at his remote home while attempting to outwit the ruthless art dealer (Rupert Everett), rival assassin (Martin Freeman) and disapproving mother (Atkins) on their trail.
Lynn’s film begins promisingly enough with some decent set-ups that display a nice line in black humour, a la films like In Bruges and The Matador. But it quickly runs out of pace amid an unnecessary desire to make things more family friendly, as well as some fairly shoddy plotting.
By the time Nighy and company reach his country home, the story has run out of steam and the darker elements sit uncomfortably alongside the staged sit-com style humour that infests the central relationships.
To make matters worse, Nighy and Blunt – who ironically played father and daughter in Gideon’s Daughter just five years earlier – struggle to convince on any level as mis-matched lovers, while the likes of Everett, Grint and Freeman struggle with the forced nature of the humour.
None of the characters are particularly appealing, most situations are telegraphed well in advance and the Anglicised nature of the rewritten screenplay lends the film an awkwardness that it never overcomes.
Hence, what should have been another quirky entry into the hitman black comedy genre feels like a huge waste of talent and opportunity, which does rather shoot itself in the foot instead. We expected so much better…
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 11, 2010