EIFF 2016: Mr. Right (2016)
Mr. Right has a lot in the mix that film fans will find very familiar. In fact, it may seem so familiar to some that you’d need it to be very good indeed to feel worth your time. It’s a good job it is then.
Sam Rockwell stars as a hitman who, wouldn’t you know it, doesn’t really believe in murder any more. He’ll still kill people, but now he tends to kill people who have hired him, through a third party, to kill other people. He has a moral code. He also has a red nose that he likes to put on, a sunny disposition, and plenty of dance moves to help him whirl and spin around the bullets that often fly around him. When he meets a lovely young lady (Anna Kendrick) then he tries to be honest with her while they develop their instant connection into something even stronger. Meanwhile, a large group of people are out to kill him. And Tim Roth is one of them, although he’s not working WITH the other group (but he does look to be the greatest threat to Rockwell’s mortality).
Writer Max Landis seems to like the CIA Project MKUltra as a plot device. After his work on the slightly disappointing American Ultra, he uses the idea as a springboard here, with much better results. Both Rockwell and Roth have been a part of the program. Unlike his previous (or later, I am not sure when the scripts were written and both movies were 2015 releases) attempt to use the idea comedically, this time he has a more appealing set of main characters, and a better cast in terms of their fit for the roles.
Rockwell is always great. Always. Let’s forget that he ever signed on for Poltergeist (hey, everyone needs money). It’s very rare to find him in a movie that I’m not at least slightly interested, and this jokey, dancing role is an absolutely perfect match for him. Kendrick isn’t quite as perfect a fit for her role, but she has great chemistry with Rockwell and really steps up to the plate in the third act. And Roth is fantastic as a professional constantly exasperated by people underestimating his main target. Nobody in the supporting cast disappoints either, although RZA is a highlight, thanks to the writing and his rapport with Rockwell.
Director Paco Cabezas may have had all of the best ingredients handed to him on a silver plate but he still does a very good job with the preparation and presentation side of things (to take this cooking analogy further than it needed to go). So, if you think that you’ve had your fill of movies about “nice” hitmen after the likes of Grosse Point Blank (king of the crop?), The Matador, and Wild Target, etc. then think again. You might just find yourself with a new temporary favourite for this particular subgenre.
DIRECTOR: PACO CABEZAS
WRITER: MAX LANDIS
STARS: SAM ROCKWELL, ANNA KENDRICK, TIM ROTH
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX