Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Rupert Grint starring in a crime caper from the man behind Yes, Minister (Jonathan Lynn) sounds almost too good to be true. Throw in supporting players Rupert Everett, Dame Eileen Atkins and The Office's Martin Freeman, plus a storyline about rogue assassins, and you've got all the hallmarks of a hit...if you can buy the storybook romance. And alas, that's a fairly hefty if.
But first things first: there's no doubting that Nighy is a British national treasure. So, after scene stealing performances in films like Love Actually and the last two Pirates Of The Caribbean blockbusters it's devilishly good to see him taking the lead as Victor Maynard, an austere, ruthlessly precise assassin whose prodigious command of his professional life is matched only by the sterility of his lonely existence. Shouldering the weight of this rather unusual family business, dutiful (if long suffering) Victor is further harangued by his mother (Atkins) to ensure that he carries on the family name. It's a mission seemingly impossible...that is until he's contracted to kill the frivolous, fresh and kleptomaniacally fancy free Rose (Blunt).
While Nighy and Blunt deftly handle the film's broad range of sardonic to farcical comedy, their May-December romance doesn't quite ring true. It doesn't help that in 2005, both actors took home Golden Globes for playing the titular pair in Gideon's Daughter. Wild Target's suspension of disbelief centres not on the criminality, but, precariously, upon this romance. But if you can accept the pairing - with Grint's unwitting apprentice to boot - then there really is an awful lot to enjoy about this film.
In Anglicising director Pierre Salvadori's 1993 French original, Lynn and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon have created a rich, colourful and intricately mannered comedy, brought to life with wonderfully wry performances across the board.
Published in Filmink Magazine
Australian release date: 11 November 2010