MR. RIGHT (2015) review
written by: Max Landis
produced by: Bradley Gallo, Michael A. Helfant, Rick Jacobs & Lawrence Mattis
directed by: Paco Cabezas
rated: R (for violence and language throughout)
runtime: 92 min.
U.S. release date: April 8, 2015 (limited theaters, On Demand, iTunes and Amazon)
The first fifteen minutes of “Mr. Right” is quite annoying with its lame setup and clichéd characters. Once the two leads find each other there are brief moments of fun interaction and maybe even some kind of cool action sequences, but bottom line: this movie is just plain dumb and boring. But look at it though – it stars Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, two of the most likable working actors out there. How could this under-the-radar, genre-bending action comedy go wrong? That’s easy. One only needs to look at the pedigree of this movie’s writer and director and then it will make sense and serve as a reminder that you can have two perfectly enjoyable and talented actors in a movies – maybe even three – but if the script and directing are lousy, there’s no escaping the smell of a turd.
The story is by Max Landis (yes, son of John), whose last good screenplay was “Chronicle” (but even that was pretty much a live-action “Akira”) and guy who had it rough last year with other duds like “American Ultra” (which died in August) and the little-seen “Victor Frankenstein” (which was DOA around Thanksgiving). At this rate, it just feels like he’s churning out screenplays and seeing what sticks to the wall. (For the record: he’s also currently writing a solid iteration of Superman, called Superman: American Alien, over at DC Comics, so check that out if you want proof that Landis isn’t totally tripping over himself). But, the basic plot of this movie is as follows….
Martha (Kendrick), recently caught her boyfriend with another girl and decides to cut loose with go out dancing and drinking with her girlfriends, Sophie (Katie Nehra) and Julie (Wendy McColm) – only that just ends up with Martha acting like a total spaz. When she bumps into Francis (Rockwell) in a New Orleans convenience store, the two totally hit it off, even though they feel like polar opposites, we eventually find out they’re kind of perfect for each other. Francis is very forthright that he’s a contract killer (known as the Clown Nose Killer because he likes to don a red clown nose before he takes out his target), even though he withholds his real name from Martha, due to embarrassment. At first, Martha blows off his career claim – after all, he’s got an incorrigible charisma – but, when she sees him kill some thug in broad daylight, she starts to freak. Until she doesn’t and then she’s turned on and the two are kicking boots and throwing knives at each other.
It’s not all love and bullets though as the fast-track couple are suddenly pursued by two idiot New Jersey gangster brothers, Vaughn (James Ransome) and Richard (Anson Mount) and a supposed FBI agent Reynolds…or Hooper (a bored looking Tim Roth, who vacillates between a Cockney English accent to an awful Southern American reason – I don’t know why), the man responsible for training Francis. All three are out to kill Francis and we’re never sure why. Maybe he betrayed them, maybe they’re just tired of his skillful and seemingly effortless craftsmanship when it comes to killing. As both Martha and Francis are pursued, the two draw closer to each other as Martha awakens her inner assassin that laid dormant all these years – she just needed Mr. Right to nudge her in the right of her true self.
Hence the title, get it? That’s about all you’ll get in this poorly directed movie by Paco Cabezas, who gave us the Nicolas Cage vehicle “Raged” from last year. What? Did you forget or didn’t know that existed? There’s a reason. While there are somewhat successful attempts at fluid action sequences, there’s still no shaking the fact that the silly and predictable script is falling flatter the more the movie continues on. The two leads have okay chemistry (although Rockwell is almost 20 years Kendrick’s senior) and can make inane dialogue infinitely funnier than it should be, but I kept wishing these two would leave this movie and walk into a better one.
One surprisingly funny supporting actor appears in the form of RZA, of all people, as a hired gun assigned to kill Frances. The problem is the two men eventually wind up respecting and appreciating each other. It’s a funny portrayal that is far from the overacting stock type baddies surrounded him.
“Mr. Right” not only has an odd title – since it’s just as much Kendrick’s story as it is Rockwell’s – but it’s also oddly put together. It would’ve benefited from being a straight-up satire of action couple movies (“Knight and Day” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) or could’ve even helped it took a clever approach to the eccentric assassin-who-finds-love, like the way “You Kill Me” did, but Landis kitchen sinks his script, making it a mostly unwatchable exercise in “let’s see if this works”.
I was astounded to learn that junk like this appeared at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, proving that sometimes festival selections wind up being dumping grounds for bad movies. There are die-hard fans of Kendrick and Rockwell out there and I thought I was one – they were the only real draw for me here – but, this movie may have derailed such curiosity for me in the future.