Starring: Jean Rochefort, Marie Trintignant, Guillaume Depardieu
Director: Pierre Salvadori
Running Time: 87 mins
Wild Target (Cible émouvante) is a French film about a professional hitman who, after being given a job to take down a woman who scammed a gangster, finds himself on the run with the very person he was meant to kill.
You may have heard of this film before, albeit in the form of a fluffy 2010 rom-com starring Emily Blunt, Bill Nighy and Rupert Grint. That film, despite being wacky and fun enough to pass the time, didn’t make all that much sense, and often proved more frustrating than simply entertaining.
This French original, however, is definitely better. Although I still wouldn’t call Wild Target a comedic masterpiece, it’s a consistent, light-hearted and fairly well-acted comedy, and even though it’s not utterly hilarious, nor fully enthralling, it’s a pleasant watch throughout, thanks to a farcical atmosphere combined with an entertaining plot.
Let’s start off with the comedic side of things. In all truth, Wild Target clearly isn’t meant to be an all-out comedy. There’s romance and a bit of drama from time to time, so that means it doesn’t have to be utterly hilarious to be any good. In comparison to the British remake, it’s definitely not as outlandishly wacky or silly, but there’s something about that that really works in its favour.
The film knows it’s telling a silly story, and as such sets up for a farcical atmosphere throughout. The central character, Victor Meynard, played brilliantly by Jean Rochefort, has an air of Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther to him. He’s not a total bumbling idiot like Clouseau, but the contrast between his legendary reputation as a hitman and his various quirks make him a very entertaining character to watch, and one that you do believe could end up in all these ridiculous situations.
The rest of the movie is just like that. The comedy is light and simple, and combines quirky weirdness with full-on slapstick, but it’s definitely enough to make you smile and chuckle through the whole duration, which made the film an overall fun watch for me.
Now, let’s look at the story, which isn’t quite as waterproof. In general, the plot (particularly the first half) fits in well with the film’s farce. There are all sorts of crazy mishaps and mistakes, which make for great laughs, as well as a comedically convoluted crime story that involves a whole manner of characters betraying and befriending one another.
However, there is a point where the film drops off to an extent about halfway through. Although the turn that it takes still offers up the potential for more silliness, it’s never an opportunity that’s quite taken up, and it leaves the film feeling a little stuck in motion as it moves towards the end. What’s more is that some of the characters’ decisions do turn a little suddenly to help the plot move towards its entertaining conclusion, something that is a little jarring at times.
Overall, I enjoyed Wild Target. A wonderfully light-hearted and pleasant little comedy with fun performances, a strongly-directed atmosphere of farce by Pierre Salvadori, and a story that, whilst not perfect, still makes for some good fun and games, all of which is why I’m giving it a 7.2.