Wild Target — I’m not quite sure how this wound up in my queue — possibly from this equivocal though interesting Alyssa Rosenberg review — and from the trailer, I had high hopes. They weren’t dashed, precisely, but after a strong start the movie makes a fatal error. Nighy plays a fussy assassin, heir to a family hitman business, so buttoned-up that his mother still isn’t sure he’s heterosexual. Emily Blunt plays a grifter moving forged Rembrandts around. A long opening sequence in which we see Nighy and Blunt going about their work separately (and expertly) suggests that we’re in for a genuine “two-hander,” with equal attention and characterization to the male and female romantic comedy leads, but after Blunt’s mark gets wise and hires Nighy to off her, it becomes a predictable exercise in unbuttoning by a Manic Pixie Dream Girl par excellence. Instead of killing her, Nighy’s hitman gets in the way of his client’s henchman’s own attempt, and pretends thereafter to be her savior as they stay a step ahead of the angry mark. Blunt’s cool grifter goes out the window, replaced by an impulsive child in need of protection and prone to swooning.
A more active role for Blunt after the meet-cute would have taken this from amusing to solid; also, the confidence to recognize that Bill Nighy is many fabulous things, none of which ever need change. Rupert Grint tags along as a possible protege for Nighy. There’s an every-which-way triangle between the three of them that never gets off the ground. Martin Freeman is very funny as a hitman who’d like to think he’s Nighy’s competition.
The Last Waltz — In memory of Levon Helm, taken by cancer last month, we watched The Band’s self-thrown funeral. Read more »