Aiming for a bad remake
Directed by: Jonathan Lynn
Written by: Lucinda Coxon (screenplay), Pierre Salvadori (film “Cible émouvante”)
Starring: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint
Despite the energy and vivacity of Wild Target’s ensemble cast, this British remake of a French hitman farce misses the mark with frustratingly obvious gags and relatively unexciting action, making it hard for us to figure out exactly what they were aiming for. While the plot seems straightforward and predictable enough, the film manages to chaotically strew events and characters together in a fast-paced, clumsy and unsurprising goose chase that ultimately fails to surprise, or at least take us for an enjoyable ride.
Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) is an assassin on his last job. Having spent his life carrying on a family reputation as an infallible professional killer, with no friends except for his guns and his French language tapes, Victor finds himself targeting an art thief (Emily Blunt) who not only manages to be his complete opposite, but also suck him into protecting her from other hired killers with the addition of a new apprentice (Rupert Grint) they find in a car park. This odd trio must then run for their lives as they become the targets of newly hired hit men, and Maynard’s own oppressive mother (Eileen Atkins).
Relying too much on the quirks of the characters, Wild Target fails to be compelling. And considering the central characters are all running in fear of their lives, a lack of compelling suspense is a bit of a problem, even if the film is essentially a comedy. While the characters and individual actors work well separately, their chemistry as a group feels forced and doesn’t seem to pull off the camaraderie that may have been conceived in the original script – their outrageous situation and dysfunctional teamwork not being pulled off by the Nighy-Blunt-Grint fix up. As one goofy mistake leads to another, Wild Target packs in gags that need impeccable comic timing in order to work, but executes them with too much reliance on their tried-and-tested nature. Because of this, Wild Target doesn’t grab our attention with sharp and snappy comedy that makes us feel compelled about what will happen to the characters or how they will interact with each other. Instead, it drags us along roads of carefully set up accidents that lose their sense of immediacy and unpredictability through performances that don’t gel as well as they should.
Unfortunately, the special features in the DVD don’t include much excitement either, consisting of rather bland interviews with each of the actors on their characters and the relationships their characters have with other characters. With each answer only lasting a couple of minutes, the special features are missing the sense of fun you would expect from the actors off-screen, denying us even potential laughs in relation to the situations and friendships that were formed on the job.
While Wild Target looks like a promising comedy with such a trio of interesting cast choices, the film disappoints largely in its execution. With short-lived chase scenes and a few quickly stitched up resolutions that never really see any development throughout the film, Wild Target shoots blindly at physical gags and quirky impulsiveness, hoping to hit something that will make the audience laugh.