Wild Target hits a bullseye
I don't know what it is about the profession of assassin, but it, more than any other line of work that I can think of, has provided the background for some great comedic films. John Cusack played a hit man in Grosse Pointe Blank, as did Pierce Brosnan in The Matador, and Ben Kingsley in You Kill Me. All great films. Joining the pantheon of great contract killer comedies is the recently released on DVD film Wild Target.
In Wild Target, veteran British actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually, Hot Fuzz) stars as Victor Maynard, a-soon-to-be 55-year-old assassin whose only real confidant is his mother. Maynard's father was also a hit man, so his mother takes a very active interest in his work. For his birthday, she evens presents him with a scrapbook detailing all of his killings.
Maynard is a very stuffy fellow, one who covers all of his furniture with a layer of plastic. His prim and proper lifestyle (killings aside) gets turned upside down when he is assigned the task of offing Rose (Emily Blunt), a free-spirited young woman who has run afoul of some very dangerous people.
Rose conned gangster Ferguson (Rupert Everett), and you know those gangsters, they don't take too kindly to things like that. As a result, Ferguson hires Maynard to off Rose. Maynard is the best in the business, and never fails to complete an assignment. But while stalking his prey, he becomes infatuated with young Rose.
This all leads to Maynard actually coming to the aid of Rose when someone else comes to finish the job. Maynard, Rose, and a bumbling car thief named Tony (Rupert Grint) all end up on the lam as they try to dodge replacement killer Dixon (Martin Freeman of the U.K.'s The Office).
While there is plenty of bickering amongst the three runaways at the beginning, they begin to form a very interesting family dynamic. At first the much-older Maynard is a father figure to both Rose and Tony. He sees Tony as someone who may be able to take over the family business from him someday. As for his relationship with Rose, it is a stormy one, as their personalities could not be more varied. But as Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat professed back in 1988, "opposites attract," and Rose's carefree personality breathes life into Maynard.
All of the performers in Wild Target shine. Nighy may not be a household name on this continent, but chances are you've seen him in some movie, be it the first Pirates of the Carribean, or the latest Harry Potter flick. He does a great job here acting as the straight man. Blunt is terrific as Rose. Blunt brings so much charm, in addition to her obvious physical beauty, that you can easily see why Maynard couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger on her. Blunt has had a very interesting career, starring in a lot of hidden gems like this one, rather than appearing in big Hollywood blockbusters. Rumour has it she turned down a major role in the upcoming Captain America film. She will have a very long and successful career if she keeps making wise decisions such as starring in this film. Great job also by the two Ruperts — Everett and Grint. Everett in particular is seen in a much different role than the flamboyant characters he is known for playing.
If you are a fan of intelligent comedies (i.e. no flatulence jokes), then you will enjoy Wild Target. Excellent performances, interesting characters, humour - what more can you ask for. This film definitely hits its target.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars