If, at the beginning of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, you’d told me my favourite celluloid presentation would be a movie about a dancing assassin and the lovably crazy woman that falls for him, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have called the folks in white coats to come see you, but here we are with the Festival over, and I find myself reviewing this strange little gem as my pick of the festival.
Director Paco Cabezas’ (Rage, Neon Flesh) Mr Right follows Martha McKay, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods) in all her kooky glory. Just as an aside, I wasn’t initially on board with the Anna Kendrick bandwagon, but with each performance and interview, she side-steps and sings her way further into my affections, and this performance is no different. However, I digress, as we meet Martha, she is having a hard time of it experiencing relationship difficulties with her cheating boyfriend, and generally seeming to be out of kilter with the world around her, ending up somewhat self-destructive and looking for something different.
Our other protagonist is Francis, fleshed out and played with glee by Sam Rockwell (Lawn Dogs, Moon). We find out that he is a hitman, and he’s pretty damn good at his job, but for one little issue, he kills the people that hire him rather than the targets, after all, murder is bad. He spots Martha in a convenience store, and they meet. Sparks fly, chemistry happens, and a whirlwind romance is started. All this is carried by our two leads wonderfully, as their rapport and charm carry us through all the situations they find themselves in with a great sense of fun and vigor. Add to this an excellent supporting cast that flesh out the story, and do a great job of standing in for our perspective on the action. Chief among these are Katie Nehra (Alex of Venice, Little Birds), playing Sophie, and rapper RZA (AWOL-72, Brick Mansions) putting in a fantastic turn as Shotgun Steve.
Sophie is Martha’s flatmate, and friend, who acts as her voice of reason throughout the movie. The thing with Martha character is that she never really listens to reason, so Sophie’s exasperation to the situations playing out before us provides you a link into things for the sensible bit of your brain that may want to nitpick, whilst doing so with humour and genuine charm.
Shotgun Steve is a hired hand for the somewhat generic mcguffin bad guys. Again he’s someone that’s baffled by the insane events unfolding around him, but his interactions with Rockwell’s Francis are a joy to watch. The lack of animosity between Francis and Steve, and the way that the relationship develops certainly has flavours of this year’s Deadpool, as does a lot of the violence on screen. Foes are dispatched in imaginative ways, and whenever Rockwell is involved, with a literal dancing grace that is a beautiful sight.
Lastly, add into the mix a very impressive Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction, Selma), who plays Hopper, the shadowy man that trained Francis. Roth is clearly enjoying himself here, and brings a real hint of his character from Reservoir Dogs into the mix. With all the cast playing at the top of their games, and a screenplay and script penned by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, American Ultra), who’s outshone his previous works by quite some way, you have a real treat of a movie-going experience. My only bug-bear, and to tell the truth it didn’t really bother me, in fact I think it added to story and vibe of the film, is that for all Landis’ criticism of Rey in Star Wars: the Force Awakens, by his own definition, Martha is a bit of a Mary-Sue. She needs a skill for the finale, so she has the skill for the finale. As I said, I actually liked this, especially as, in my opinion, the way it’s introduced adds another layer into the relationship between Martha and Francis, but I did have a wry chuckle to myself when I noticed the parallels.
Mr Right isn’t your typical movie. It’s a little bit off the wall, and not everyone will take to it, but if you want to have a funny, action-packed, and somewhat romantic night out you should give it a shot. The direction is swift, and there are some lovely little visual flairs. Cabezas obviously knows how to get the best out of this ensemble cast, and there isn’t a weak performance among them. The absolutely worst I could say about this movie is that the bad guys that force the final act encounter aren’t as strong as they could be, but the thing is they really don’t need to be. The story isn’t about them, and they are incidental to the plot, merely acting as a reason for the set-piece. Admittedly, it’s not the deepest or most cerebral film you’ll ever watch, but it’s smart, funny, and should bring a smile to your face.
Should you get yourself out to see Mr Right when it hits cinemas on general release? Well, not everybody is looking for Mr Right, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t at least give this one a chance.
- strong cast performances.
- great fun visuals.
- a smart snappy script.
- real chemistry between our leads.
- slightly weak bad guys.
- slight lack of depth to the story.