Movie Review: ‘Mr. Right’
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, and Tim Roth
Plot: A young woman falls for a man who turns out to be a hitman.
I am a big fan of Sam Rockwell. I will pretty much watch him in anything. Despite my admiration, he doesn’t exactly have a Tom Cruise/Will Smith level pick of the litter and finds himself performing in sub-par indie work, usually as one of the few, if not only, bright spot. With Mr. Right, he is in a very similar position. He plays a hitman who has had a change of heart. Rather than kill the people he is hired to kill, he kills his clients for trying to buy his services in the first place. It is a wacky, cool kind of character where it works best to just let Rockwell off his leash. As Travis Bickle by way of Robin Williams, he mugs and dances his way through typical shootouts and fight scenes granting new life to a genre that often seems either dead or way too grim. The action scenes could use all the help they could get. They are occasionally clever and mostly fun, but they could use some refining.
With a screenplay by legacy storyteller, Max Landis, you can be sure there will be some attempt at subversion through genre mash-up. Here, he frankensteins (get it, because he wrote Victor Frankenstein, never mind) the ’90s too-cool-for-school comic thriller already in progress with a classic “adorkable” romantic comedy. After a chance meeting with Anna Kendrick’s recently dumped Martha, Rockwell’s hitman, who really doesn’t want to reveal his name but eventually does, lays it on pretty thick until they are finally making beautiful adorkable music together, that is stepping on each other’s lines and mumbling through overwrought repartee. As a fan of Kendrick too, I would have guessed these two would have much better chemistry, but they were both too much like the same person. There are glimmers whenever Kendrick gets a reality check, but they unfortunately never live up to the kooky Bonnie and Clyde they should have been.
The real strength of the comedy plays out when either Rockwell or Kendrick are trading verbal barbs with the other characters. They take the air out of the cliche bad guy threats so well that it never bothers you that they are talking almost exclusively in those cliches. Two of those bad guys stand out among the rest: the competing hitmen played by Tim Roth and RZA (of Wu-Tang clan fame). Roth plays Hopper, Rockwell’s backstabbing mentor trying to put him down for good, and RZA plays Steve, a gunhand hired as extra protection for the main bad guys (played by next generation character characters Anson Mount, James Ransone, and Michael Ecklund). That same air that Rockwell and Kendrick steal from those stiff villain stand-ins, Roth and RZA steal from the good guys’ supernatural mix of agility and cheeriness.
It all looks really good on paper I bet, but the elements never truly gel in the way that they should. The dialog can wear thin after awhile, and the action becomes repetitive. Ultimately, it pulls too many punches to work as a post-Tarantino ’90s throwback, but that is the decade this may have been able to earn some fans.