Wild Target


Directed by: Jonathan Lynn
Written by:Lucinda Coxon, Pierre Salvadori
Starring: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman, Rupert Everett
Released: November 11, 2010
Grade: B

If you like your “hit man” movies, it’s a good time to be going to the cinemas in Australia this week.  George Clooney is offering a dramatic version in The American.  Bill Nighy is offering a comedic version in Wild Target.  Which one is worth seeing?  The answer depends on which is your preferred genre.

In Wild Target, Nighy plays Victor Maynard, the best hit man in the business.  He never makes a false move and always gets the job done.  His mother (Atkins) is very proud.  As a birthday gift, she gives him a scrapbook filled with newspaper articles.  Each article details the deaths that he was responsible for.  She’s left a few blank pages at the end too – hoping that his great record will continue.

Unfortunately, Maynard is about to make his first big mistake.  He falls in love with a girl.  Her name is Rose (Blunt) and despite being given orders to kill her, Maynard can’t go through with it.  This leaves both of their lives in danger.  Maynard’s employer has brought in some fresh assassins to kill them both.

Along for the ride is a young guy named Tony (Grint).  Maynard has taken Tony under his wing and is grooming him as a protégé.  He’s got to learn however.  Who’d have known there are so many different ways to strangle someone?

Wild Target begins well enough and there are more than a few jokes to chuckle about.  Bill Nighy nabs most of the laughs with his suave, sarcastic, sophisticated character.  It reminded of his standout performance in The Boat That Rocked.  Rupert Grint isn’t too bad either.  I was less impressed with Emily Blunt – I found her character’s stupidity more annoying than endearing.

The humour tends to dry up in the second half and the film stumbles home with a fairly predictable ending.  I was hoping for something a little more adventurous.  The English generally do it best when it comes to comedy but this is a few notches below what you might expect.