Wild Target

Director    Jonathan Lynn
Starring    Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman, Gregor Fisher
Release    8 OCT (US) 18 JUN (UK)    Certificate PG
3 stars


23rd June 2010

Bill Nighy, Rupert Grint, Martin Freeman, even Rab C Nesbitt...all secretly smirking on a bright white background surrounded by guns and money. Yup, this is a poster for a right ol' English caper. There's even a pink cat, because we Brits love a good 'animal dyed a funny colour' joke. And then there's Emily Blunt who should just know better. Not that this is a particularly terrible film, it's just that everything about it screams silly and twee British farce. And for once Richard Curtis is nowhere to be seen.

Adapted from the probably much-better French film Cible émouvante (released in 1993), Nighy stars as Victor Maynard, the most efficient hitman in Britain, who keeps himself to himself and, as such, never meets girls, much to the chagrin of his batty mother. Then he is hired to kill free-spirited Rose (Blunt) but instead predictably takes a shine to her. When he ends up saving Rose from his employer's goon, they end up on the run together along with teen lout Tony (Grint) in an attempt to escape ruthless gangster Ferguson (Everett) and the second most-efficient hitman in Britain, Dixon (Freeman).

The film pleasantly ambles along dishing out a typical amount of slapstick moments and amusing calamity but the poorly written script relies mainly on the comic performances of its well-versed actors for laughs. Much of this stems from the juxtaposition between the well-organised, but socially-awkward, Vince and the uninhibited-but-reckless Rose, which makes for some genuinely funny moments

[gallery]Unfortunately, it also makes for one of the least convincing and most inappropriate romances seen on film since Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment. Thanks to Vince spending the first half of the movie chastising Rose like he is the irritable father to her naughty little girl, by the time he has his 'Oh, I love her' epiphany, it just seems creepy, especially considering the actors' 34-year age difference - which is never actually addressed in the film.

But, again, this is a fault of the script rather that of Nighy and Blunt, who actually exceed in their fairly one-dimensional roles. In fact, the casting as a whole is pretty much just an exercise in picking a fairly famous Brit actor to play a thoroughly unchallenging character. Rupert Grint is basically Ron Weasley with more wide-eyed stupidity and the occasional lit joint, and Rupert Everett is the least threatening gangster this side of Mickey Blue Eyes. Martin Freeman, on the other hand, has more fun as Dixon, with a sinister demeanour and an unnaturally toothy grin, but his screen-time is really too short to make much of an impact.

Together they handle a plot that doesn't hold up to close scrutiny, but the action moves at too fast a pace to really notice, spending the first half of the film whizzing through the streets of London, before they decide to hide out in Vince's family home in the Isle of Wight - that's right, the two best places that the UK has to offer. And it all leads to a lazy ending that doesn't quite tie up all of the loose ends, followed by a completely pointless epilogue which does nothing more than to offer one last lame joke before the credits roll.

Ultimately, while there are some funny gags (such as the 'half now, half after the job is done' payment method that sees Vince sellotaping his money together), there really isn't enough to stop this falling squarely in the 'distinctly average' category of Britflicks.

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