It’s a classic love story of girl meets former assassin. Martha (Anna Kendrick), an unmotivated grad student, suffers a humiliating breakup and hits the rebound jackpot in Francis (Sam Rockwell), a smooth-talking free spirit. They go on a few quirky dates and fall in love, with Martha studiously ignoring the red flags presented by her new beau, such as the fact that he refuses to tell her his name and seems to fabricate every piece of information about himself. As it turns out, he is an acclaimed international hitman, who has recently had a change of heart and retired in favour of murdering only those who really deserve it. He is being hunted by a New Jersey gang intent on killing him, which in turn puts Martha in danger, not that she seems to mind.
With a higher body count than your average romcom, Mr Right is culturally derivative with gags that don’t quite land. Using at least five generic pop songs before the ten minute mark, the film wastes its New Orleans setting and its stars. Kendrick at least manages to give a typically charming and outgoing performance. Martha begins to verge on annoying, but by the end the actress allows some of the welcome sassiness of her character from Pitch Perfect to come through. She and her flatmates are supposed to be in their late 20s, but still live and behave like teenage undergrads. The “love at first sight” scene and subsequent date is sweet and entertaining, with Kendrick and Rockwell’s natural chemistry overcoming the stilted dialogue. That Martha happily accepts when Francis murders several people in front of her would appear to be a bit of a stretch, but the movie is not entirely preoccupied with being realistic.
Tim Roth makes an early entrance as a cynical, foul-mouthed British assassin, but there is some confusion as to whether he is with the bad guys, the good guys, or somewhere in between. It is also unclear whether the gang members are supposed to be funny or threatening, so they end up being neither. Mr Right is short and sweet, but perhaps a little too short for any meaningful relationship or character development to play out. Francis’s game of cat and mouse with the gang members and fellow assassins feels more like filler to the romantic plot than anything more meaningful. Unfortunately, the main storyline itself is not compelling enough to carry the film, which ends up, like one of the characters, shooting itself in the foot.
Mr Right is released nationwide on 2nd December 2016.
Watch the trailer for Mr Right here: