Based on the 1993 French flick Cible Émouvante—though so thoroughly English in spirit and humor that you’d be hard-pressed to guess that—this is the tale of Victor Maynard (Nighy), a hit man of elegant demeanor, professional scruples and excellent reputation who finds he cannot bring himself to take out the beautiful thief, Rose (Blunt), he’s been hired to kill. In the uncharacteristic moments of hesitation when he should be shooting her, a couple of coincidences lead him to become both her protector and mentor to Tony (Grint), a young man at odds with himself who believes Victor is a private investigator and signs up as Victor’s “apprentice.” Hijinks ensue as the three of them go into hiding from Victor’s employer (Everett) and the hitman (Freeman) subsequently hired to finish the job Victor was supposed to do.
Movies hardly ever make me laugh out loud, but this one did, more than once, with its unpredictable twists—the scam Rose is engaged in as the film opens is one of the wittiest, slyest crimes I’ve ever seen a film propose—and unexpected punch lines growing out of the deliciously twisted characters. This trio of vivacious actors—Nighy, Blunt and Grint—always seem to pop off the screen no matter what movies they’re gallivanting through, but here, together, they have a lively synergy, playing off one another to deeply hilarious, and sometimes weirdly poignant, affect. Wild Target would be worth seeing for them alone, even if the rest of it weren’t so clever.
Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy, Rupert Grint