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Mr. Right (2016)

Review by Nic Brown

 

Love is strange; you can go looking for and rarely find it, but then when you aren’t looking, it can show up. When it does show up, it pays little mind to anything else going on in your life. Take Martha McKay (Anna Kendrick), for example. She just found that her boyfriend was cheating on her and dumped him, sending her into a serious bout of self-pity and depression that her long-time friend and roommate Sophie (Katie Nehria) can do little to assuage. Martha is tired of men trying to make her be what they want her to be instead of letting her be herself. She needs someone different, and in director Paco Cabezas’ film Mr. Right, that someone happens to take the form of a professional killer (Sam Rockwell).

 

Mr. Right (Rockwell’s character is nameless for most of the film) is a former hired killer who has abandoned the mysterious agency he worked for and chosen to only kill people who try to hire him. In that respect he can still get paid, and he figures that eliminating these people is a way to make up for his previous deeds. He’s in New Orleans taking care of a client with his former mentor, Hopper (Tim Roth), hot on his trail. To complicate matters, Von (James Ransone), the local mob boss’s younger brother, recognizes Mr. Right and decides he wants to trick him into killing his older brother so he can become the boss.

Mr. Right knows he’s being pursued, but he likes New Orleans and is enjoying the sites, seemingly unconcerned for the danger he’s in. He has a chance encounter with Martha in a convenience store. This seemingly harmless meeting triggers an attraction in both of them. Martha, seemingly against her own better judgement, agrees to spend the day with Mr. Right. While out, there are attempts made on his life, but Mr. Right is uniquely gifted with regards to how he perceives the world, and he uses those gifts to playfully avoid the attempts while further impressing Martha with his whimsical nature. She asks him why he’s doing some of the strange things he does and, to his credit, he never lies to her. He says someone is trying to kill him and that he may have to go and kill them. Martha, as one might expect, believes he’s joking even as he deals with threats during their time together.


As the relationship between Martha and Mr. Right grows, dark clouds loom on the horizon. Hopper has now assumed the identity of an FBI agent and has enlisted the New Orleans police in his effort to find his former protégé. Von’s plotting also becomes more complex and his efforts to ensnare Mr. Right in his plan draw closer and closer to the killer. As the danger becomes more evident, Mr. Right and Martha will have to deal with not just the threats they face, but also the challenges their relationship presents to them. Even if they live through it all, will their love survive?

 

Mr. Right is a darkly comedic love story wrapped in an action film. Writer Max Landis and director Paco Cabezas take an old theme of the criminal trying to go straight and turn it on its ear with a wry sense of humor. This quirkiness takes some of the edge off the film’s more violent and morally questionable elements. Rockwell is brilliant as Mr. Right, bringing enthusiasm and energy to the role. His killer is not jaded and bitter; he’s actually optimistic and curious about the world. This comes in part from his nature, but in part from the energy he seems to draw from his relationship with Martha. Mr. Right stands out in stark contrast to Roth’s character of Hopper, who is dark and remorseless in all he does. The contrast shows why Rockwell’s character deserves Martha’s love.


Landis took several turns from the norm with the character of Martha. While being placed in peril, she never acts the part of the damsel in distress and, in fact, more often than not, she saves herself and aids Mr. Right as much as he aids her. Martha’s independence and confidence grow during the film and this creates a feeling of partnership rather than dependence between the characters, an unusual occurrence in films that run along the lines of crime thriller, even one like Mr. Right, that plays for laughs as much as thrills. Kendrick was a good choice for the role of Martha. She brings good comedic skills and manic energy to a character who is at once quirky, fun and yet darkly dangerous in her own way.

 

A last note must be given to the fight choreography of the film. Mr. Right, despite its romantic comedy roots, has plenty of action and some of the fight scenes are outstanding. Fight choreographer James Lew creates a unique feel in the style of Mr. Right that makes one think that Fred Astaire and Jason Statham had a love child. Mr. Right dances through his fights with a fluidity that makes them both fun and exciting to watch.

 

The violent nature of Mr. Right and many of the elements associated with that violence mean that this film is definitely not for everyone. However, if the viewer doesn’t mind a little blood, they will be treated to an entertaining and original take on some of the crime thriller standards of redemption and what one will do for love. So check out Mr. Right and remember that sometimes true love doesn’t mean finding someone to keep you sane; it means finding somebody who makes you a little bit crazy. 





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