The hitman comedy seems like something that is so played out. Even in the case of Paco Cabezas’s Mr Right, it appears that way too. With a script from Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra), everything just feels super conventional and safe. But a by-the-numbers screenplay does not automatically mean the film is garbage, especially in the case of Mr Right. Utilizing great comedic performances from all of its actors, the film is a gleefully violent time hurt only by its need to be unique.
What struck me most was how much Mr Right reminded me of 2013’s 2 Guns. That film was not a great movie, but it also wasn’t a bad one. It was fun when it tried to be, and when it wasn’t shooting chickens’ heads off, it still managed to find fun in its madness. That is exactly the same situation here, except with an anachronistic relationship between Martha (Anna Kendrick) and Francis (Sam Rockwell) that will either make viewers cringe or maintain their interest in between the violence. Martha is just leaving a bad relationship after finding out her boyfriend has been cheating on her. Enter Francis, who is strange, quirky and exactly what Martha needs right now. What elevates this film from any other romantic comedy is that Francis is a hitman who helps Martha discover herself through bloodshed.
If you do not like Sam Rockwell, this movie will bomb considerably with you. However, for those who can’t get enough of Rockwell, he continues to be one of the best comedic actors in the business right now. His character allows for a lot of creatively violent moments, and with his sense of humor those same moments become rather humorous. Francis is a hitman who only kills the people who contract him to do the hit. A reverse-hitman, if you will. He has a code that he lives by, and everytime he is about to kill a target he makes sure to put on a clown nose. These are the kind of wacky character traits that feel like Landis is trying to hard to make something with too much quirk. But by the end, Francis seems less like a punchline and more like a character.
The supporting cast for Mr Right is also noteworthy from Tim Roth as the agent hunting down Francis to James Ransone, Anson Mount and Michael Eklund as the brother criminals at each others’ throats. Then there is RZA who appears as the henchman who doesn’t get paid enough to kill a hitman that is as talented as Francis. There are a lot of hot tempers in the film, all of which amount to a destructive ending that paves the way for lots of action, humor, and over-acting.
Anna Kendrick’s character is the biggest problem with this film other than its force-fed quirk. Martha is dimwitted the entire film, with her only realizing that Francis is a hitman later in the film. Then she becomes violent and psychotic as she embraces Francis’s brutal tendencies. It becomes endearing by the end, but before that it feels like the same kind of insistent pushiness of the script to make each character quirky and likable because of that. I enjoyed my time with Mr Right, but sometimes it felt like the movie was trying to grate against itself.
When all is said and done, Mr Right winds up feeling satisfying by having a particularly malicious character arc for Martha and a dynamic relationship between her and Francis. Even RZA, who often seems like he is uninterested in anything he is doing, seems to be having a fun time here. This is a movie that defines middle-of-the-road but still manages to come off as something that could be watched a few times because of its characters and their banter with one another.
Screening courtesy for the Toronto International Film Festival.