Review: ‘Wild Target’ by Karo

published 25 February 2010
written by Karo

I had the chance to see Wild Target at the European Film Market in Berlin in February 2010 – not once, but twice.
Since we did not know much about the film beforehand, I will give you a short summary before the actual – somewhat spoiler-free – review.
After all: “Half now, half later”.

Viktor Meynard (Bill Nighy)is the best and most expensive hitman in London, having taken over from his late father and his mother (Eileen Atkins), who is now residing at “Memory Lane” and would love to see him settling down and getting a heir.
Rose (Emily Blunt) is a thief and sells fake paintings and ends up tricking Ferguson (Rupert Everett) into buying a fake Rembrandt. Ferguson therefore hires Viktor to kill her, but Viktor fails when he begins to fall in love.
When Ferguson’s bodyguards (Gregor Fisher as Mike and James O’Donnell as Barney) take it upon themselves to kill them both, Viktor and Rose go on the run – along with Tony (Rupert Grint), who got caught in the crossfire. They find a room in a Hotel – only two rooms next to Ferguson’s suite.
With some luck (and a baby’s help), Viktor, Rose and Tony once again manage to escape and find refugee at Viktor’s house on the countryside, while Ferguson sends Hector Dixon (Martin Freeman), the second-best and almost-most-expensive hitman, after them…

For those who have seen the original, Cible Emouvante, the film is very similar (up to the headlines on newspaper clippings). Some scenes are quite different however, for example Tony’s introduction.
Overall, Wild Target has a much faster pace than the original and is therefore much funnier, as you have barely finished laughing about one quote when the next funny line comes up. The first part (before they arrive at Victor’s house) is shorter than the original, and more time is spent on the going-ons at Victor’s place.
While Wild Target is very British, there are several little hints and nods to the French original all over the place, including the French style of Victor’s house and Victor’s French lessons. Another one is the score: during Victor’s introduction, the music resembles the music from the original film (like the music you hear everywhere when you spend your summer holidays in the South of France), yet when Rose appears, it’s very modern and edgy.

Bill Nighy as Viktor is very uptight. Always dressed in suits, he looks very much like a businessman, which is also the way he fulfils his jobs. His mother is a big influence, but his attraction to Rose is stronger than his mothers orders to kill her, and little smiles are often the only indication of his feelings for Rose and Tony.
In contrast to Viktor, Emily Blunt’s Rose seems “as free as the wind”. She dresses in quirky outfits, with skirts made of very floaty materials. She wears her heart on her sleeve and has emotional outbursts that Viktor cannot deal with.
Their relationship is hilarious because they are so very different and clash constantly, but it is also very sweet. You are just waiting for Victor to lose his composure, or for Rose to calm down.

Tony stumbled onto the situation by accident, but is trying to make the best of it by enjoying the countryside and becoming Victor’s apprentice. He has his own relationship with both Rose (almost like sibling, teasing each other but having close moments as well) and Victor (a mix of teacher/surrogate father and apprentice/adoptive son).
Compared to Antoine in the original, Tony seems less naïve. Antoine spends much more time with Victor while attempting to kill Renee, so it is easier to understand in the remake that Tony believes Victor is a private detective instead of a hitman, since he does not witness him doing his job (he mainly witnesses the moments when Victor covers up what he failed to do).

The entire “all star british cast” is brilliant. Everyone. Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt make a cute couple despite the age gap, and their interactions range from very romantic to absolutely hilarious. Martin Freeman made me laugh just by looking at him. He may only be the second-best-hitman, but he certainly takes the top spot among hitmen when it comes to tans and toothpaste smiles. Gregor Fisher (Tony’s favourite victim) is brilliant, as is Rupert Everett, who really is intimidating as Ferguson, although still very funny.

Rupert was awesome. He got to show a pretty big range of emotions since Tony is learning stuff and gaining confidence: from a very caring scene with Rose to almost losing his head after his first shot to self-confident business-attitude when discussing his apprenticeship with Victor.
Rupert is absolutely hilarious in the funny scenes. Not in a way like Jim Carrey or Adam Sandler, but in a way that is absolutely natural. It’s not forced, it simply is funny because it is spot on because it’s realistic that someone would react or speak the way Tony does if they were in a similar situation.
Ron Who?! The beard definitely makes Rupert look different to Ron, but once again he makes the character look different from any of his other characters. Ron not stay that cool if a gorgeous, drunk woman crawled over him on the bed, Ben wouldn’t tell two hitmen to “Calm down!”, Alan might have realised that Victor was no detective, and Malachy depends on his best friend while Tony is on his own.
Some mentioned that Antione has some similarity to Ben in Driving Lessons. Well, Tony does not. Tony seems like the character who has received the biggest makeover from the original to the remake.

One of the things that I only realised a bit later: Tony is Rupert’s first role as a grown-up character. Tony is not a moody teenager like Ron or even Malachy. Young, overwhelmed, scared: Yes.
But he’s definitely a young man.

How did the audience react? The reactions were great, and remember, the people were professionals; e.g. possible future distributors. The seats we filled to about 80%, and (in contrast to other screenings), most of these people stayed until the credits and saw the entire film. There was laughter all the time, and Rupert managed to make people laugh in scenes where the focus was actually on Bill and Emily, and he was in the background.

I cannot wait for everyone to see Wild Target. I laughed more than I did during Keeping Mum (which is saying something), and I am still laughing just thinking about silk handkerchiefs, cows and ice in the minibar. Wild Target is one of those films that will always succeed in putting you in a good mood, and a really, really great film.

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