If you’re familiar with movies based on Max Landis scripts, you’re probably aware that they aren’t for everybody. Mr. Right is one of those movies. A comically wild take on the reformed hitman story starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell.
The movie opens with Martha (Anna Kendrick) catching her boyfriend cheating on her. Even though caught in the act, he tries to spin the situation and suggest a threesome. Martha quickly excuses herself from the situation and the relationship. Elsewhere Francis (Sam Rockwell), aka Mr. Right, is literally dancing through a hotel on this way to murder a woman who hired him to murder someone else. Sam is a hitman who’s somewhat recently decided that murder is wrong. As a result, he kills anyone who hires him to do a job. He’s also being hunted by his former partner, Hopper (Tim Roth).
Francis runs into Martha at a convenience store the day after her break up and is drawn to her quirkiness (she’s wearing cat ears for some reason). After some witty banter/pestering, the two end up spending hours together on what turns into a multi-day date. Francis is very forward with her about the fact that he kills people, even taking out a sniper while they’re in the park. Of course, Martha thinks he’s just being quirky and joking with her and doesn’t take his claims seriously. Francis has a particular gift that allows him to feel the flow of energy in the world. That gift is what allows him to evade danger and be so good as a killer. He shows Martha that she has it too by throwing knives at her. When Martha finds herself able to pick the knives out of the air, she realizes that this is crazy but is excited to go with it anyway. She also soon realizes that he wasn’t joking about his job when she sees him kill a man. At that point she freaks out realizing that she doesn’t even know his name.
Things get more complicated when Hopper comes to her home disguised as an FBI agent and uses Martha to track Francis. On top of that, there’s an ambitious young mobster who has heard of the hitman that kills the people that hire him and wants to use him to take out his older brother, who leads their mob family. When the mob comes after them, Francis has just gotten done incapacitating Hopper and making up with Martha for the whole hitman thing. With all that going on, he can’t defend Martha from a particularly adept mobster named Steve (RZA) and she’s taken by the mob. Once he gets himself together, Francis goes after Martha. He storms their hideout and takes them down one by one, except for one guy that Martha kills herself. At the end of the fight, he has to face off against Hopper again and takes him out one more time. Francis then allows Steve to turn Hopper in for a huge reward while he and Martha run off together. The end of the movie shows them in another country still being hunted, but now working as a team.
What will likely determine your opinion on this movie is how you feel about the action scenes. Similar to American Ultra (another Landis script), this movie has some action scenes that are full of oddball behavior and some uniquely cool moments. However, that means that they’re also not normal action scenes and can run the risk of being just being “strange” or off-putting. Really, I think the whole movie kind of runs that risk. It’s full of ideas that are familiar or have been seen in other places, but they’re strung together in a way that, along with the performances, makes a movie that’s very fun but also feels very weird. And, I think, that’s the point.
Now, just because I’m praising weirdness as a feature of this movie, that doesn’t mean that the weirdness forgives some of the problems that the movie has. A lot of the story feels confused or not very well explained. The most striking example of that is the whole flow of energy ability that Francis demonstrates with Martha. I don’t know if there’s a good way to explain what this ability is, but the explanation that’s provided is about as good as someone just saying “I can use the force, and so can you” and then just throwing knives at each other. Maybe they didn’t want to get bogged down in details, but I think they just went too far in the other direction.
The other thing that’s a little bit strange is that the movie is all over the place tonally. It’s simultaneously action packed, awkward, romantic, cute and slick. When I don’t think about how many different things are going on at once it works, but once I try to talk about it I realize how bizarre and contradictory a lot of elements are. I feel like a lot of that emanates from the character of Martha. Depending on how you read the movie, she’s either quirky, insane, or on a transition from one to the other throughout the movie. Her performance in the movie is definitely a high point as well as her chemistry with Rockwell, it just comes inside a package that’s not easy to digest.
This is a movie that’s very enjoyable but probably works better when you look at the pieces of the movie than it does when the whole thing comes together. All that being said, I’d gladly watch this again.