The world doesn’t really need another movie about a humorously conflicted hitman, and certainly not one as strained and disjointed as Wild Target, which squanders several talented actors in a comedic thriller that’s neither funny nor thrilling. The great character actor Bill Nighy plays veteran assassin Victor Maynard, a fussy loner who’s great with guns but bad with people. He stumbles when setting his sights on his latest target, a flighty thief and con artist named Rose (Emily Blunt), who’s scammed a debonair gangster (Rupert Everett) with a fake Rembrandt and has been marked for death. For reasons he can’t quite understand, Victor decides that instead of killing Rose as he’s been hired to do, he’s going to protect her from the people who want her dead.
Pretty much anyone watching the movie can guess those reasons, even if Victor can’t: He’s falling in love, both with Rose and, in a paternal way, with Tony (Rupert Grint), the aimless young man who inadvertently finds himself in the crossfire between Victor and the gangsters. Victor and Rose bicker tediously before unconvincingly giving in to desire, all while the oppressive score underlines the alleged wackiness or poignancy of various scenes. Nighy and Blunt have an age gap of more than 30 years and no romantic chemistry whatsoever, although they’re both charming in their own ways. Blunt is good as the whirling dervish of a woman who consumes everything in her path, but Nighy’s dry wit is probably wrong for the role of a hired killer, even a dysfunctional one. Everett, Eileen Atkins and Martin Freeman are all used to less than their full potential in the supporting cast.
The whole movie bounces along that way, exhibiting some potential and then wasting it, with a haphazard romance and stale jokes and a thriller plot that makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe one of those failures would be forgivable if the rest of the movie worked, but when the various elements all fizzle, all we’re left with is some likable actors trying their best to save a fading film.