Stars: Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Tim Roth, James Ransone, Anson Mount, Michael Eklund, RZA, Katie Nehra, Douglas M. Griffin | Written by Max Landis | Directed by Paco Cabezas
Hyperactive at the best of times, Martha (Anna Kendrick) has gone full-on manic since her latest breakup. She babbles, parties like a monster, cooks everything in sight – and is looking to do something terrible when she meets Francis (Sam Rockwell). To anyone else, Francis’ approach would come across as creepy, but Martha can’t help but be intrigued. They seem a perfect match: she’s bananas, he’s bananas… except he’s also a professional assassin.
However Francis is a hitman with a cause: he kills the people ordering the hits. Just as Martha begins to realize her new beau wasn’t joking when he said he had to step out for a moment to shoot someone, things start heating up for Francis. His services are solicited by a dubious client who’s being sought by an equally dubious FBI agent (Tim Roth). As the bodies pile up, Martha needs to decide whether to flee or join in the mayhem.
I think I can safely say the work of Max Landis is devisive amongst the film community. Everyone loved his script for Chronicle but then some felt American Ultra fell flat (though I rather liked this particular low key spy story). Now comes Mr. Right, a film that – for reasons unbeknownst to this writer – was agregiously delayed in its original UK debut, not hitting UK shores till December of last year. The only reason I mention this is because Mr. Right came to my attention back in early 2016 when you couldn’t go to the cinema in Toronto without seeing ads – be it posters or trailers – for the film. I didn’t see it back then (as it opened after we left Canada) and spent the next few months patiently waiting for it’s official UK cinematic debut. Turns out I’d have one hell of a wait… The film eventually arrived in the UK on a VERY limited cinema release, making this DVD the first chance many (myself included) will have had to see the movie.
[Sidenote: Mr. Right is yet ANOTHER film whose UK release amounts to a bare-bones DVD only release. Where's the Blu-ray Altitude? Do film fans have to import yet again to get this in high-def?]
Helmed by Paco Cabezas, whose only other film credit I’ve seen is the Nicolas Cage action thriller Tokarev, Mr. Right is the quintessential Max Landis film – much like American Ultra and Chronicle before it, this film is a mish-mash of genres: part romantic comedy, part crime thriller, part action movie, and part comedy. In fact it reminds me very much of films like Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild or one of my all-time favourites Grosse Point Blank – both of which also mixed comedy, action and drama to great effect. It’s something Landis’ work never seems to get praised for: just how easy (it seems) he can mix genres so well into a cohesive whole.
Unlike similarly pulpy action comedies, Mr. Right plays things on the lighter side. Rockwell’s “former” killer never feels like he’s a danger to anyone, never mind Kendrick’s Martha; and despite the danger both characters face there’s never any real fear or tension – instead the action is played out like a fun slapstick comedy. Think The Three Stooges but with guns. It also helps that Landis’ script is performed by such a great central cast. Sam Rockwell has always been able to do slightly off-kilter and manic, so here he’s in his element – plus being a hitman means Rockwell gets to bust some ass-kicking moves and look smooth doing it! Meanwhile Kendrick plays up the eccentricities we’ve seen in her previous roles, adding an air of goofball charm that suits the light-hearted slapstick nature of the film and goes a LONG way to help build a rapport with Rockwell’s hitman AND the audience.
A film I’ve been waiting a long time to see, which thankfully lived up to my anticipation; Mr. Right is available on DVD now, courtesy of Altitude Film Distribution.