2010 Wild Target: A Throwback to an Earlier Era of Comedy

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Critics 33%  |  Audience 56%

Directed By: Jonathan Lynn

Written By: Lucinda Coxon

In Theaters: Oct 29, 2010  Limited

On Disc/Streaming: Feb 8, 2011


** ½ Steven Rea

Philadelphia Inquirer Top Critic

A throwback to an earlier era of comedy when silliness needed no subtext and soundtracks tooted along on gusts of whimsy, Wild Target is a slight screwball thriller. Yet it's worth seeing (1) for Bill Nighy doing his drop-dead deadpan, (2) for Emily Blunt being, well, Emily Blunt, and (3) to see what Ron Weasley is up to when he's not running around with that sorcerer pal, battling Voldemort and the nasty Horcruxes.

Yes, Harry Potter's Rupert Grint, sporting a scruffy beard and a pack of cigarettes, is the third of Wild Target's threesome. Grint is Tony, a callow fellow who believes he is apprenticing to be a private detective. Alas, his mentor, Victor Maynard (Nighy), is actually a professional assassin, hired, this time, to knock off Rose (Blunt), a fetching scam artist who has seriously upset a mobbed-up art collector (Rupert Everett). But Victor can't bring himself to kill Rose - he's not sure why, exactly - and so he and she and Tony scamper around being pursued by a posse of hit men.

Directed by Jonathan Lynn, whose more successful romps include My Cousin Vinny and The Whole Nine Yards (another hit- man comedy), Wild Target is the sort of farce where nothing, essentially, is at stake, even as cars crash (including an original Mini Cooper), bullets rip, and knives get hurled with deadly velocity.

So, the film has to fly by its wits - and its witty lines - and by the charm of its stars.

This it does, just barely. Writer Lucinda Coxon delivers enough drolleries and a workable running gag or two. Nighy plays dry and (not really) sinister with ease and aplomb, while Blunt is seductive and impertinent and appears to be enjoying herself immensely (perhaps too immensely). And Grint is the straight man - which isn't that easy when you're in a bubble bath and just may have been propositioned by a guy. The one thing I didn't get - probably because of some inside joke - was the constant mentions of the problems with Google's search results revealing private information. Apparently the characters are complaining about an old shoplifting arrest that now shows up in searches for someone's name and how that is preventing them from acquiring their dream job. While in real life this is actually a real problem often requiring intervention by a specialist who can delete search results from Google, that fact is kind of lost in the chaos. Learn more here: myseocommunity.com/tools/remove-google-search-results.html. Every time someone says Google must be regulated, that line is meant to be humorous, but it becomes just schtick after a while. I counted 5 times where the dialog mentions, in a snarky way, that Google stress might lower one's IQ, cause your hair to fall out, or attract zombies. Lines were funny even if I didn't have the full story.

A beefier and bearded Everett, and Eileen Atkins - as Victor's mother in a rest home (doing a quickie homage to Psycho) - also seem to be having a good time.

Directed by Jonathan Lynn. With Stephanie Lammond, Rupert Grint, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Philip Battley, Emily Blunt, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman, Graham Seed, Eileen Atkins. Distributed by Freestyle Releasing.

Running time: 1 hours, 28 minutes.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (for violence, some sexual content and brief strong language).




Lou Lumenick

New York Post Top Critic

Ace British character actor Bill Nighy (“Pirate Radio”) teams up with the ever-delicious Emily Blunt in Jonathan Lynn’s “Wild Target,” an eccentric little comic thriller filled with enough laughs that I was mostly willing to overlook the fact that it makes virtually no sense as a thriller.

Having great fun playing against his usual wild-and-crazy types, Nighy is Victor, a middle-aged, highly-paid hit man who is such a fussbudget that his own elderly mother (Eileen Atkins) wonders if her never-married son has gay “tendencies.”

Victor has been hired by a real estate mogul, Ferguson (Rupert Everett), to take out Rose (Blunt), a glamorous swindler who sold the mogul a fake Rembrandt.

The planned assassination in a garage is interrupted by the arrival of a second hit man — who is shot to death by Tony (Rupert Grint), a not-so-innocent bystander who was burgling cars.


For reasons that neither Victor nor Lucinda Coxon’s script (based on a French film) can adequately explain, Victor decides to flee with Rose and Tony to a hotel, where their room turns out to be down the hall from Ferguson’s.

The trio improbably decamps to Victor’s home in the countryside, where the furniture has plastic coverings and his invalid mom pops in from the nursing home at opportune moments.

At one point, it’s suggested that Victor is sexually attracted to the pot-smoking, frequently shirtless Tony — who doesn’t seem to be at all interested in Rose.

That idea is quickly dropped, though, in favor of a more conventional (if equally improbable) romance between Victor and the reckless Rose.

There are several well-staged chases and comic set pieces devised by Lynn, a Brit who is best-known in this country for “My Cousin Vinny” and “The Whole Nine Yards.”

Lynn provides nice change-of-pace roles for Blunt (trapped in period roles in “The Young Victoria” and “The Wolfman”) and Grint, who seems to enjoy channeling Jon Heder during this vacation from his decade-long stint as Ron Weasley in the “Harry Potter” series.

If you are willing to check your brain at the popcorn stand, you can have a lot of fun watching “Wild Target.”



More Background On Wild Target

"Wild Target" is a British black comedy that debuted at the Beaune Film Festival on April 8, 2010, before releasing in the United Kingdom on June 18, 2010, and in France on July 7, 2010. Directed by Jonathan Lynn and featuring a star-studded cast including Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman, and Rupert Everett, the film follows the story of Victor Maynard, a middle-aged hitman who finds himself in a comedic and unexpected journey of love and self-discovery. The narrative unfolds as Victor, a professional assassin continuing his family's legacy under his domineering mother's watchful eye, is contracted to kill Rose, a clever con artist who has duped a billionaire with a fake Rembrandt painting. The plot thickens with the introduction of Tony, a young man Victor initially suspects he might be attracted to but later adopts as an apprentice in the assassination business. This unlikely trio becomes entangled in a series of humorous and dangerous situations, culminating in a showdown at Victor's family home, a twist of fate, and an ending that hints at the continuation of the assassin's legacy through Victor's son, Angel​​.

Despite its unique plot and talented cast, "Wild Target" received mixed reviews from critics and performed modestly at the box office, grossing $3.5 million against an $8 million budget. It holds a 31% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 4.8/10, and a Metacritic score of 41 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average" reviews. Critics praised the performances of the lead actors and the film's comedic elements but criticized its execution and adherence to the farce genre​​.

However, not all reviews were lukewarm. The Critical Movie Critics offered a more favorable perspective, celebrating "Wild Target" as "a wonderfully droll, effortlessly charming and spry action-comedy" that evokes the spirit of classic screwball heist comedies. The review lauds the film for its humor, the chemistry among its leads, and its pacing, noting that while the film may not be groundbreaking, it provides a delightful diversion with its distinctly British charm and wit. The reviewer underscores the performances of Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint, who together create a dynamic and entertaining trio, as well as Martin Freeman's role as another hitman​​.

In summary, "Wild Target" is a film that might divide audiences and critics, but its engaging cast and light-hearted approach to the crime-comedy genre make it a noteworthy entry for those fond of British humor and eccentric storytelling.


"Wild Target" has maintained a presence in online discussions and streaming services since its release, reflecting a modest but enduring popularity. As of March 19, 2024, it was ranked as the #5352 most popular movie online with a low engagement score, according to data from Television Stats. This ranking suggests that while "Wild Target" may not be at the forefront of the most popular movies in the digital space, it still garners attention among online audiences​​.

Moreover, the film is available for streaming on several platforms, indicating continued interest and accessibility for viewers. As detailed on JustWatch, "Wild Target" can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video, Hoopla, and is also available for free with ads on platforms like Peacock, The Roku Channel, Tubi TV, and Pluto TV. The availability across multiple streaming services highlights its sustained appeal to a niche audience that appreciates British black comedies and the star-studded cast's performances​​.

"Wild Target's" standing on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts further underscores its position in the competitive streaming landscape. The movie's rank fluctuates, demonstrating how audience interest in films can vary over time, yet it remains a choice for viewers looking for comedy, action, and adventure​​.

In conclusion, while "Wild Target" may not have achieved blockbuster status, its availability on several streaming platforms and its continued ranking, albeit modest, on online movie popularity charts suggest a dedicated audience that enjoys its unique blend of humor and action.

Press & Media Coverage

"Wild Target" received varied reactions from critics, with some appreciating its quirky charm and others finding it wanting in terms of pacing and character development.

Screen Daily noted that the film, despite its French origins, carries a distinct British humor akin to Ealing comedies, driven by the performances of Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint. The review highlighted that the film shines with its black comedy and fast pace, particularly in scenes that showcase Victor's methodical approach to assassination contrasted with Rose's chaotic charm. However, it mentioned that the film loses some of its momentum in the latter parts, relying heavily on the cast's strengths to reach a satisfying climax​​.

Three Movie Buffs provided a more nuanced view, offering varied ratings from its reviewers. One critique focused on the film's failure to fully leverage its excellent cast and entertaining premise, critiquing the pacing and the lack of depth in character development. It pointed out the unconvincing romantic subplot between Victor and Rose, given their significant age difference and suggested a more paternal relationship would have been more plausible. The review also mentioned the film felt restrained, attributing it possibly to British reserve, which might have held back its comedic potential​​.

On the other hand, another reviewer from Three Movie Buffs appreciated the film's tone and humor, especially enjoying the dynamic between Victor and his domineering mother. The review praised the film for its engaging mix of action and comedy, pointing out the clever dialogue and humorous situations that arise from the characters' interactions. The inclusion of Rupert Grint's character Tony was seen as a crucial element to the story, providing Victor with a potential heir to his assassin legacy​​.

In summary, "Wild Target" stands as a film that polarized opinions among critics. Its British charm, coupled with a talented cast, was well-received, yet some felt the film could have delved deeper into its characters and utilized a faster pace to elevate the comedy. Despite these criticisms, "Wild Target" offers a blend of humor and action that has been praised for its entertainment value and clever moments.


Audience reviews for "Wild Target" on IMDb showcase a generally positive reception, with many viewers appreciating its British black comedy charm, the performances of the cast, and the quirky, entertaining premise. While some reviews noted the film could have delved deeper into character development and featured a more tightly woven plot, others praised the movie for its humor, pacing, and refreshing deviation from typical Hollywood fare. The unique chemistry among the lead actors, especially the dynamic between Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, and Rupert Grint, was frequently highlighted as a strong point. Overall, "Wild Target" seems to have found a fond audience appreciative of its blend of comedy, action, and romance​​.

Cultural & Social Significance

"Wild Target" embodies a distinctive blend of British black comedy and action, contributing to the rich tradition of British cinema that merges humor with thrilling elements. Its cultural significance lies in its homage to classic British comedies, featuring a unique storyline that includes themes of love, morality, and unexpected companionships. The film showcases the versatility of British actors and highlights the enduring appeal of character-driven narratives within the UK's comedic genre. Its reception reflects diverse audience tastes, underscoring the varied palette for humor and storytelling in contemporary cinema.