Film Review: Mr Right
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Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick and Tim Roth in a quirky, action-packed rom-com from the writer of American Ultra - sold already, right?
Wrong. Mr Right is actually pretty, well, not very good. Which really doesn’t make any sense on paper, considering it stars two of Hollywood’s most charismatic leads and comes from a script by the rather annoying but at least slightly talented Max Landis. There’s a whole bunch of shooting, a hefty batch of genuine chemistry and at least as many funny moments as one of 2016’s mid-tier comedies. So, what went wrong?
Rockwell leads as a morally-confused hitman who decides to finally start turning the tables on his shady crime-syndicate employers, around the same sort of time as he runs into Kendrick’s Martha, an equally directionless singleton who just so happens to be the accidental love of his life. It’s a fairly digestible (if ever-so-slightly ripped-off) starting point, but one that sadly runs out of steam surprisingly quickly.
There’s just something very clearly broken with the inner-mechanics of it all. Something that isn’t really the fault of either Rockwell or Kendrick, who happily give the charmingly dark little indie they think they’re making their best performances possible. It might ultimately just add to the frustration of the finished film, but on the whole they’re actually an easily likeable couple that deserve a much better direction than the one they end up getting.
It isn’t even really the script that’s the problem here either. Aside from running a little too close to the vastly superior Grosse Pointe Blank in plotting, and a runaway third act that gets far too dark and sudden with its final developments, it’s mostly just exactly what you’d expect from Landis’s seemingly bottomless box of high-concept spec ideas: punchy dialogue, clear-cut self-awareness and the occasional, mildly-funny vagina joke.
No, what’s really at fault here seems to sadly be the film’s director, Paco Cabezas. This isn’t to single him out alone and blame him for all of the film’s many shortcomings, but between the wonky toning, atrociously choreographed action scenes and his blatant inability to reign in a lot of Landis’s wackier moments, pretty much all of the more major issues seem to lead straight back to him.
It’s a royal shame because, again, the whole thing should really work on paper; but ultimately Mr Right ends up serving as a perfect example of what happens when a seemingly promising production falls apart due to a lack of strong enough leadership. As a film it’s just totally all over the place; too loud one minute and too soft the next, wasting most of its decent jokes on a rickety tone that never quite manages to balance out the mood between the jet-black violence and the stoner-style humour.
True, there are certainly worse comedies out there (and god knows a lot of them have been around this year), but with this much quirk and talent all crammed together in one perfectly-sized little indie bundle, the result really should’ve been much more impressive.
Mr Right is out in the UK from today.
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