Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint. Done,
sold...there’s your film. With the strength of these three performers,
and with sometime help from Rupert Everett, Eileen Atkins and others,
director Jonathan Lynn (Yes Minister, The Whole Nine Yards)
brings us a fast and quirky British comedy which is cutely outside
concrete realism just that little smidge. Not that it matters, because
it’s lots of fun.
Coxon’s screenplay is based on the 1993 French comedy Cible émouvante
but was obviously and understandably anglicised. Nighy plays Victor
Maynard, a straight-laced 50-somethig faceless contract-killer whose
reputation is impeccable. Blunt meanwhile is Rose, the carefree
embodiment of charming theft and cunning. There’s a wonderful scene in a
market where we get to know her: Maynard is trying to kill her. But why?
Because she cheated crime-boss Ferguson (Everett) out of a painting
numerous complications, Maynard and Rose are on the run, joined by Tony
(Grint), who ends up being Maynard’s protégé. They seek asylum in
Maynard’s large but sterile country estate. It’s just gorgeous and was
filmed on the Isle of Man.
There is a
lot to like in Wild Target, including clever dialogue and
slapstick humour, but neither in extreme doses. Lynn handles everything
with confidence and there’s even a chase involving a Mini—think Michael
Caine in The Italian Job.
for me best was the lightness of it all. No one we care about is in real
danger. It’s more of a play-along, oddly reminiscent of the tom-foolery
of Mr Bean. There is also a wisp of sexuality thrown in good for good
measure. Maynard ends up “confused” by Tony. The three of them, old man,
young woman, young man, living in the big house, with the occasional
presence of a matronly mother (Atkins), is atypically cosy.
myself and laughter could be heard in generous amounts during the
screening. Wild Target is not profound and it’s not gripping or
uproarious but it’s a solid little performer. Blunt and Grint would be
glad to have ditched their respective Devil Wears Prada and
Harry Potter personas and enjoy more of the spotlight they play so
well to. The soundtrack is good too. There’s a slight fantasist quality
but it’s enjoyable enough to compel me to hunt down the French original.