‘Mr. Right’ (2016) Review
A young woman suffers a troubling breakup and on the rebound meets a man who she thinks is Mr. Right. He’s charming, handsome, funny, and intelligent. He’s everything she’s wanted though there is this one little thing that has her concerned.
Martha McKay (Anna Kendrick) thinks she is getting ready for a sexy at-home dinner date with her longtime boyfriend, though when he walks in with another woman on his arm, she realizes her life choices are not going quite so well. After a time of perplexing introspection, she begins to look a little more closely at why she’s the way she is, in all her quirky adorableness. That of course involves alcohol, but in a cute, drunk and miserable is ingratiating way. Francis (Sam Rockwell) is an accomplished hitman, an assassin of unparalleled skill who, after years of success, has developed a conscience of sorts. When he gets a contract to kill a target, he instead murders the client, telling them that, ironically, murder is bad. He takes his job seriously, even if his methods are far from it (he wears a clown nose when he shoots people). For ten years, he’s had the FBI on his tail and every time they corner him, he cuts them all down.
One day, in a corner market, the two literally bump into each other over a display of condoms. Strangely, there’s a connection, and the two hit it off, starting a relationship. The two are surprisingly similar, with their sense of style, approach to life and sense of humor. He’s entirely honest with her right from the start, though she assumes his cracks about his killer lifestyle are just part of his schtick, never taking it to heart. She’ll soon learn.
By now, you’ve probably sensed where this is going and noticed two distinct genres at play. There is the playful rom-com, meet cute, light-hearted quirky-girl comedy and the violent, action-oriented chase film. Kendrick is a natural fit for the first and and Rockwell does the second very well. They two are good together crossing the wires of both types of movies. She just wants a good man in her life, and he wants a good woman, not believing his job should interfere. It does of course even though she shows an aptitude for some of the skills he demonstrates.
Directed by Paco Cabezas from a script by Max Landis, the film tries to poke fun at tropes it itself falls victim to, even when it does something occasionally clever. Francis has Zen-like powers when it comes to deadly combat, and so, like many other characters in this genre, when he’s in a fight, ‘sees’ things in slow-motion and therefore can react quicker. But it doesn’t do anything about it. It just is. Reminiscent of a Shane Black written film, it has the right components but lacks the edge Black films are known for, especially in a finale that does everything it can to be about style and nothing about characters, checking off old standards one-by-one, such as showdowns that are all talk, inept bad guys who don’t take advantage of every opportunity they have to kill the protagonist, and people who are on one side when it starts but will clearly be on the other when it’s over. It’s really a shame because the start is sort of fun, once you swallow the pill and accept Kendrick as an over-the-top goofball. What doesn’t work is her arc, which comes too fast and explained away too easily (“I’m a T-Rex” isn’t enough). Rockwell is fantastic though, obviously having fun with the colorful character and Tim Roth, playing the FBI agent whose real identity is obvious from the word go, is wasted but mostly fun. Watching the two, it somehow feels like a cross between Seven Psychopaths and Reservoir Dogs. A little bit at least.
While the age gap is significant between the leads, this might have worked better if it hadn’t felt the need to employ the violent storyline. It doesn’t go far enough to make it a memorable modern-day Bonnie & Clyde substitute and it goes too far to be an enjoyable romantic comedy. Nobody will believe, nor will want to see, Kendrick portrayed as she in the final act. She just doesn’t have that edge mentioned earlier. As it stands, Mr. Right is a mediocre film with a standout performance by Rockwell and a few clever set pieces that will get lost in the shuffle of so many just like it.
Mr. Right (2016)
Director: Paco Cabezas
Writer: Max Landis
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Tim Roth
Genre: Action, Comedy