Monday, November 12, 2012

'Wild Target' is worth a shot

Wild Target (2009)
Starring: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Martin Freeman, and Rupert Everett
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Natty professional killer Victor Maynard (Nighy) finds himself questioning his dedication to the family business and his life in danger when a mid-life crisis is triggered when he takes on an apprentice (Grint) and develops romantic feelings for a con artist (Blunt) he has been hired to kill.

"Wild Target" is a quirky hit man movie/dark romantic comedy. It's a remake of a French film, but I didn't realize this until I did some research--it feels British through-and-through, so that might be a consideration as to whether you think it might be a film for you or not.

It's also a relatively low-key movie, given its subject matter. In some ways it probably mirrors the life that those who truly lead their lives killing select targets for lots of money probably lead -- quiet steady existences that are marked by sudden, explosive bursts. Although while there is murder and violence here, the explosive bursts in this film are probably far funnier than those that occur in the life of a real hit man.

I also imagine that the looks-and-acts-more-like-a-banker-than-a-murderer borderline obaessive-compulsive character portrayed by Bill Nighy than the flamboyant master assassins we get in so many movies and books. I would think it would be the only way someone like that could have a career in murder. Whether realistic or not, it is a character that works extremely well here, as he ends up being both the film's straight-man and one of the funniest characters in it. Blunt and Grint portray characters that are purely comedic figures, while Nighy's character performs many functions as the film unfolds and along the way he is funny, tragic, and even a little scary when we see exactly how little like a banker he really is.

But, more importantly, Nighy portrays a character who is very likely. As I get older, I find it increasingly hard to like characters who are contract killers and murderers. However, Victor Maynard was a sympathetic and likable character almost immediately, and he became only more appealing as the film unfolded and he began to question whether he could have more in his life than just killing.

"Wild Target" is perhaps a quieter film than most of those who are attracted to films featuring hit men or comedies about guys having mid-life crisis are used to. However, the snappy, well-paced script and exceptional performances by the entire cast will win everyone but the most ADD-plagued viewers over.

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