They strike quickly and efficiently, dressed in tuxedos. Maybe that’s why they’re called professionals.
In Wild Target, assassination is metaphor for working class, and though it isn’t exactly satire, the movie mirrors other stories about the aging of men and the search for meaning amidst the mundane.
It’s also a nifty take on the spy/killer movie with good bits of comedy, sentiment, and charm.
Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) happens to be the most notorious assassin in circles familiar with the business. Described as average (average nose, average mustache), he’s about to turn 55, the age his father was when Victor was born.
A sort of mother’s boy, he now lives alone and leads a quiet life broken by spurts of quick and efficient violence. With an affinity for the finer things in life — he’s overdressed for every occasion and spends his off-time reciting French lessons to himself — Victor comes across as polished and refined to the point where his personality and level of emotion have been bleached out. It’s how he compartmentalizes his two lives.
When a con-artist pulls off a bait and switch, the bereaved party hires Victor to get rid of the her.
But the wall separating the two sides of Victor begins to crumble, bit by bit. As he stalks Rose (Emily Blunt) around an outdoor market, he really notices her. As she casually and deftly steals clothing, piece by piece, to fashion herself a nice outfit for the evening, Victor can’t help but admire the girl for her ability, creativity, and ambition.
Victor decides to protect the girl, and they become fast friends, even if the friendships is based on false presumptions. She believes he’s a private detective, and he plays along as long as he can knowing the truth could destroy the relationship.
It might sound a bit serious in summary, but the movie is rife with comedic moments delivered by expert actors who know the importance of timing. The dialogue is delivered so naturally in a way that isn’t pretentious or forced — it’s almost self-effacing. Nighy brings likability to his character, and Blunt instills a charm and innocence in the girl — her name is never mentioned — that isn’t overwrought.
The inept and pure Tony (Rupert Grint) adds another chaotic element to the movie, forcing Victor to juggle all of the new friendships which start to act like wrecking balls on the neat, orderly, and colorless life he’s become accustomed to. Everything spirals delightfully out of control, but it’s for the better. In one scene, as the trio first arrive at their first safehouse in a hotel room, Victor puts a table on its side near a corner couch and claims his personal space.
It’s at once tragic and quaint — we know it’s only a matter of time before Victor embraces this newfound fellowship.