Film #230: Wild Target (2010)

wild_targetdirector: Jonathan Lynn
language: English with bits of French
length: 98 minutes
watched on: 2 October 2016

My dad had this on the computer, but nobody knew what it was, so we were pretty much going in blind when we put this movie on. It turned to be a caper comedy from 2010 about Bill Nighy as a hitman who finds he can’t complete the job on a pretty young Emily Blunt, a happy-go-lucky petty thief. Rupert Grint joins the mix as their third wheel, and Martin Freeman shows up as an overacted bad guy.

I actually quite enjoyed it, because it was pretty light and had a slapstick feel to it (despite also having a black side to it) – but it also felt like it should have been better. Bill Nighy in particular is good at comedy, and he didn’t get so much of a chance to shine in this movie.

On further inspection I found out the movie is based on a well-acclaimed French film, which makes sense, as I’ve always found the French to be better at farce and black comedy than the British, who tend to be better with sarcasm and embarrassment comedy, or with verbal comedy. It also explains why Nighy’s character learns French in his spare time – a nod to the film’s heritage.

The other thing is, Nighy is literally twice Blunt’s age in this film, if not more – his character celebrates his 55th birthday during the film, and I’d guess that Blunt’s character is 27. In fact, Nighy was 60 in 2010, and Emily Blunt was indeed 27. And the fact that he has a crush on her is uncomfortable; the fact that they (spoilers!) end up together and even have a kid is just weird. Hollywood needs to start matching actors by age better – this obviously male fantasy of an older man with a younger woman needs to stop. I was really hoping they’d preclude this, but narratives like this are inevitable.

Also the number of gay jokes is frankly appalling for something written in 2010 – people keep asking Nighy’s character if he’s gay because he hasn’t taken a wife, and so on and so forth. Rupert Grint’s character even shows him his dick to test if he is or not. It’s only six years ago, but those kind of jokes already feel like a bygone era. And yet Sherlock, made the same year, was rife with that shit too. I would expect this more from something written in 2003… this decade I thought we’d gone past that.

As an aside, I didn’t realize Emily Blunt was the same person who played alongside Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, and she was also in Looper. She looks completely different here, more like a Katy Perry lookalike. I also realized she was in My Summer of Love over a decade ago as one half of a lesbian love affair – although that movie had a pretty fucked up ending I liked it a lot.

As for this movie, it apparently flopped badly, and there’s probably no reason to seek it out, but as I say, despite its obvious flaws and tonal problems, I enjoyed it. My recommendation is ultimately half-hearted, though.

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