“I’m Victor Maynard, I’m 54 years old and I work as a professional killer”
Wild Target was a 2010 Brit-flick, adapted by Lucinda Coxon from the French film Cible Émouvante and directed by Jonathan Lynn, that made little real impact despite a rather fabulous cast. Bill Nighy plays Victor Maynard, a middle-aged man who has followed in the footsteps of his father as an assassin, but has no personal or social life to speak of, just regular visits to his mother, Eileen Atkins in fierce form. But when a job goes wrong, he finds himself trying to defend the very person he’s meant to kill, Emily Blunt’s con-artist Rose with the help of a young would-be apprentice in the shape of Rupert Grint’s Tony.
It’s mainly frothy silliness. Amusing in parts as the threesome try to avoid being killed by the hapless assassins dispatched to finish off the original contract and round up the loose ends, including Martin Freeman with some lovely dental work…, the bond that grows between them is strongest when it is most ambiguous. There’s hints that the hitherto asexual Maynard may be a closet case, though meeting George Rainsford as a waiter in a gay café (that I would so frequent) sadly leads to nothing; Rose and Tony both come unencumbered by any attachments and so it seems it is anyone’s game.
What emerges though is a kind of pseudo-family unit as Rose and Victor grow increasingly closer and Tony and Victor’s relationship takes on a paternal sheen as he grooms him for the assassin trade. It feels a little disappointingly conventional and also just a tad suspect, Nighy is undeniably charismatic but Blunt is way, way out of his league. The business in the world outside the house where they are holed up never really grips though – Rupert Everett strangely bloodless as the villainous kingpin, Rory Kinnear treading water with another of his stock geeks – it is left to Atkins to raise the game with some inspired gusto. It’s not a film I could recommend you go out of your way to track down in all honesty but if it was 11pm and it came on the telly, you wouldn’t need to change the channel.