One of the best things about the rise of streaming is that a lot of small films that might not merit wide releases quickly become available to large audiences. Such is the case with Mr. Right, an action comedy that had a limited release this month, but which is already available on some On Demand platforms.
Starring Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick, Mr. Right tells the story of a young woman named Martha (Kendrick) who’s having, as her friend puts it, a very early mid-life crisis. After being cheated on by her boyfriend, she falls into a mild but absurd tailspin that only stops when she meets the equally bizarre and charming “Mr. Right” (Rockwell). The two hit it off so quickly that they’re already head-over-heels for one another when a tricky obstacle comes to the surface: Mr. Right is a hitman who’s on the run from the same people who hire him to do jobs.
This whole setup results in something that can only be described as an action-rom-com, somewhat like a mash-up of John Wick and Silver Linings Playbook.
So does it work? I anticipated that a movie like this would leave me with a definitive answer to that question. It seemed bound to either succeed or fail. But as it turns out, there’s both good and bad in Mr. Right.
The bad really comes down to pacing and exposition. Simply put, the whole thing feels abrupt. We’re used to our rom-com characters falling for one another in a matter of days, because there’s only so much time in a movie. But in this case, the relationship still felt sudden in a way you couldn’t quite buy. Really, we’re shown a rebound and a bit of infatuation, and then we’re told it’s love. It’s a bit jarring, though not a fatal flaw.
Additionally, the crime side of the story—the shady figures hunting down Mr. Right—is done in a surprisingly confusing fashion. It’s not that you can’t grasp what’s going on, so much as you feel like you shouldn’t have to try. Basically, there’s a convoluted network of villains doing villain-y things, and you know they’re all after Mr. Right. However, their chain of command and respective motives all get a little jumbled along the way. It’s kind of annoying, but again, it’s not a deal-breaker.
The good, as it had to be, is entirely in the performance of Rockwell and Kendrick. The former is his usual infectiously weird self, dedicating his performance to small moments and quirks to present a character deeper than he would have been in most any other hands. This is a perfect Sam Rockwell part, and he knows it—and he exploits it. Kendrick, meanwhile, is wonderfully odd in her own special way. She actually makes you believe there’s a girl out there whose reaction to her boyfriend killing a rival assassin would be “Ah, screw it, let’s get margaritas.”
In the end, the movie’s best scene defines it. While explaining his professionally honed and lighting-quick reflexes, Rockwell describes an energy flow of sorts that he’s able to tap into. He classifies all “things” as islands, and talks about learning to feel the water in between them to get a sense of where they are and how they’re moving. It’s a poetic moment in a largely ridiculous movie, and it’s actually not a bad way to approach the experience. If you can tap into the chemistry, energy, and self-awareness presented by Rockwell and Kendrick, you’ll have a better time than if you’re just focused on the film’s more overt elements.
Image via Twitter