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Friday Film Review: Wild Target

Wild Target (2010)
Genre: action/comedy/romance
Grade: B+

“I love you, Victor Maynard.” – Roger, a parrot

It’s got a hit man, an inept thief, a forged Rembrandt, a lost young man, the second best assassin in the business, a mother with high standards, a pink cat, a stolen bullet strafed car and a lesson about cleaning your gun. What more could you want in a film?

Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) is 54 years old, the best assassin in the business and assigned to kill Rose (Emily Blunt) who pulled an art heist fast one on Mr. Ferguson (Rupert Everett) a ruthless real estate tycoon. But as Victor follows her – do I see a smile? Yes, I do – he is intrigued by her free and easy “all for me” ways and doesn’t pull the trigger. As his exacting mother tells him, in order to restore the family reputation, he needs to finish the hit. But when he goes after Rose again, it’s to discover that someone else has been assigned the job.

Ferguson’s bodygoons botch the business and Victor, Rose and Tony (Rupert Grint) – a young man who witnessed the whole thing – find themselves on the run from Dixon (Martin Freeman) the second best assassin, now hired to kill them. Can Victor stay one step ahead of Dixon, instruct Tony as his new apprentice, win the girl and get his mother’s (Eileen Atkins) approval of her?

Bill Nighy’s movies either work for me or spectacularly don’t (Glorious 39, Pirate Radio). In this case, like “Love Actually,” it works brilliantly. Here he plays Victor, a man as stiff as a board, who shrink wraps his furniture – and I don’t just mean the upholstered pieces – but who can give a mean foot massage and who looks after his mother. It’s a joy to watch him slowly thaw even as he’s trying not to strangle Rose who is unlike anyone in his life, ever.

Emily Blunt plays Rose as someone who in a romance novel would be described as delightfully infuriating. Just watch her larcenous stroll down a street market or listen to her droll sarcasm and shoulder shrugging nonchalance in the face of Victor’s uptight efforts to keep her alive. But she wakes Victor up and makes him question where he is in life. Then “just enough” happens to make her fall in love with him.

Rupert Grint is sort of a Robin to Batman in the movie. Grint gives Tony a youthful, earnest enthusiasm that also catches Victor’s interest and in a way he becomes almost the son to Victor’s father figure. He and Rose get to squabble like children as they both breathe life into Victor’s up-til-now quiet life. Eileen Atkins is brilliant as usual. I love this woman in almost everything I’ve seen her in. She’s determined that the family standards be maintained and don’t underestimate her with an eight inch knife or a gun.

Rupert Everett is delightfully sinister as the thwarted tycoon who is more dangerous than the goons around him. As Dixon, Martin Freeman is given a lesser role and unfortunately, I don’t think as an assassin he’s nearly as interesting as Victor. Though his goon is quite funny at times.

There are so many moments in the film I love. Listen out for some football commentary which also applies to what’s going on between Victor and Rose at the moment. And watch for the crib mobile that Victor’s father made for him and the parrot who overhears too much. And definitely pay attention to the French phrases Victor is practicing – not only are some hysterically funny in relation to his hits but they’re also poignantly telling of his emotional state.

So should a hit man, a thief and an apprentice hit man be rewarded in the end with success and the beginning of “one big happy family?” Oh, yes indeed. I might wish that the deus ex machina wasn’t as blatantly telegraphed, that Grint weren’t quite so clueless at times, that the second best assassin had as much flare as Victor and that there was a commentary tract – this movie just cries out for one – but overall I’ve enjoyed it each time I’ve watched it. B+

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

23 Comments

  1. ShellBell
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 05:16:40

    I like the sound of this – will be keeping an eye out for the DVD!

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  2. Brussel Sprout
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 06:41:10

    This movie was a hoot, and the whole family loved it from 8-48…

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  3. Antonia
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 06:53:14

    I saw this movie when it first came out and I loved it. What a pity it didn’t do so well at the box office.

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  4. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 07:00:13

    Has anyone ever seen the 1990s French movie this one was based on? I’m just curious as to how much effort I should put into seeing it.

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  5. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 07:02:04

    @Antonia: I would imagine that Rose’s character could have put people off the film. I think that people will either like her or loathe her.

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  6. LG
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 07:54:29

    I had never heard of this movie before, but it sounds fantastic. I’ll keep it in mind for the next time I go DVD shopping.

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  7. Vanessa
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 08:25:57

    This movie sounds awesome, and I love all the actors, thanks for reviewing it. It’s up on Netflix, gonna watch it right now lol

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  8. Lexxie Couper
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 08:37:56

    Oh, I love this film. Sure, it’s not perfect, it has pacing problems and some of the plot developments are telegraphed a mile off, but damn…it’s funny, sweet and Nighy is brilliant brilliant brilliant.

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  9. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 09:46:58

    @Lexxie Couper: I love the scene in the parking deck when Victor is trying to conceal who and what he really is from Rose and Tony. His “acting” is so bad one wonders how on earth they didn’t suss on that something about him just isn’t right. Of course the wild ride through London in the bullet strafed car with Ferguson and his goon on their tails was funny too.

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  10. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 09:48:18

    @LG: It has a fabulous cast and everyone is excellent. It at least looks like they were all having a ball.

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  11. Cathy Pegau
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 10:08:46

    Love Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy. Saw this previewed on a different DVD and was cracking up just from that. Meant to rent it but never did. Thanks for the reminder!

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  12. Sandra
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 11:42:32

    I came across this a couple weeks ago on one of the premium channels. Cinemax, maybe? I stopped on it for a few minutes, but then moved on, because it had already started, and I don’t like watching movies where I miss the beginning. But it looked like fun, and sounds interesting, so I’ll definitely go looking for it again this weekend.

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  13. Lo
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 12:48:57

    This was such a great film. My husband and I really enjoyed it. We found it via a preview at the beginning of a different DVD and added it to our Netflix queue. Dave-O liked it so much he bought a copy for the house!

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  14. Maili
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 13:27:47

    I haven’t heard of this one! It sounds fun so I’ll get a copy. I’m not keen on Emily Blunt, but I love Bill Nighy enough to overcome that. Thanks for the heads up.

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  15. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 18:38:03

    @Cathy Pegau: Most of the time those enforced previews drive me batty but every once in a while I’ll discover a film I’ve never heard of that I go on to give it a try. Of course I need to write the titles down right then or I tend to forget them too!

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  16. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 18:41:11

    @Sandra: I’m totally with you on hating to watch a movie I’ve missed the beginning of. I feel like I’m trying to play catch up and probably missed some important bit from the get go.

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  17. Jayne
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 18:44:02

    @Maili: I can’t say I’ve seen Blunt in anything else. Do you not like her as an actress or just the roles she’s been in? Nighy is brilliant, as Lexxie said, and Atkins is marvelous.

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  18. library addict
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 20:32:14

    I liked Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada and The Adjustment Bureau (good performances, lame script). I also like Rupert Grint from the HP movies, so I’ll give this one a try.

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  19. cate nugent
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 02:48:03

    Loved this film, and it’s lovely to see Rupert Grint in non gurning mode… Jayne, you need to have a squiz at The Young Victoria, Emily Blunt is brilliant (if too tall & too slim ) as Victoria, and Rupert Friend super as Albert. I’m with Library Addict on The Adjustment Bureau, but it’s not a bad film for a night in with pizza & plonk

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  20. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 07:11:33

    @cate nugent: Aha, the Victoria one I have in my rental queue. And after looking at her movies there, I see that I’ve watched “Sunshine Cleaning” which was a cute little film in which she played an American.

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  21. Maili
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 13:21:01

    @Jayne: As an actress. Her performance doesn’t vary from film to film (Wind Chill, The Jane Austen Club, Irresistible, The Wolfman and My Summer of Love). So because of that, I find her dull and perhaps predictable. I have Wild Target DVD, so let’s hope it’ll change my mind on Blunt. :D Thanks.

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  22. Lexxie Couper
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 02:38:27

    @Jayne:

    Blunt is quite good in Charlie Wilson’s War and The Adjustment Bureau. And her breakout role in The Devil Wears Prada was funny, moving and despicable.

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  23. Rhianna
    Sep 06, 2011 @ 12:00:21

    Hmmm… how have I not heard of this one? I really enjoy both Blunt and Nighy so this should have been on my radar at least. Thanks for the review Jayne!

    ReplyReply

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