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“Wild Target,” Reviewed

“Wild Target,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s odd what films make you a believer in the auteur theory. A few years before I had ever heard of Andrew Sarris or really started to dig into Cahiers du Cinema, I had watched a review of the Michael Richards-Jeff Daniels comedy “Trial and Error” on “Siskel and Ebert” where Roger Ebert showered praise on the film’s attention to detail, particularly how Charlize Theron looked both ways for traffic before crossing the street. The film was the second courtroom-set comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn, a journeyman if there ever was one after coming to the U.S. following a career in British television (most notably as a writer on “Yes, Minister”).

This is worth mentioning since “Wild Target” bears all the hallmarks of Lynn’s best films, despite being, even at a tidy 90 minutes, a bit too long. It is silly but not stupid, conforms nicely with the conventions of screwball comedies, and once again displays the director’s ability to bring the best out of his actresses, whether it’s Theron, Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards” or even Beyonce in “The Fighting Temptations.” (It’s no coincidence his weakest films have weak female characters (“Sgt. Bilko”) or have men playing them (“Nuns on the Run”).)

10292010_WildTarget2.jpgIn “Wild Target,” Emily Blunt is the clear object of Lynn’s affection, even if Bill Nighy is the real lead of the film as a hitman tasked with taking out a conwoman named Rose (Blunt), who has successfully passed off a Rembrandt forgery, and becomes infatuated with her instead. For Nighy’s prim, precise Victor Maynard to fall for her, Lynn must do so first, delighting in showing the type of trouble in store for Maynard when Rose tools around London on a bicycle, sneaking past cars at an intersection that she causes to crash and bewildering museum security guards. But once trouble catches up to Rose, which it does in the form of the wronged art collector Ferguson (Rupert Everett), she unwittingly flips Maynard from murdering her in a parking lot to killing the second hitman Ferguson has sent for her. (There is some small pleasure in the oddity that the third assassin sent to kill Blunt’s Rose is the British “Office”‘s Tim, Martin Henderson, has been hired as the third hitman to kill the real-life wife of the current American “Office”‘s Jim, John Krasinski.) Rupert Grint takes a rare step away from Ron Weasley to join Nighy and Blunt on the road after he witnesses the whole thing as a scruffy car wash attendant.

“Wild Target” is able to get by on the chemistry between the trio, and some clever wordplay in Lucinda Coxon’s adaptation of Pierre Salvadori’s 1993 original French film “Cible émouvante,” for about two-thirds of the film before reaching a point where Maynard and Lynn don’t know what to do with Rose, with the former taking her up to his country home for protection, robbing the latter of further opportunities to explore her devious streak. A life of domesticity doesn’t suit either Maynard or Rose, but that’s the direction “Wild Target” takes for much of the final third, with the two taking on roles completely unnatural to them that seems like an unintentional condemnation for their past crimes. And for a comedy that finds most of its humor in death, considering a life beyond one of crime is no life at all, though as the free-spirited Rose would likely be given to say, it’s fun while it lasts.

“Wild Target” is now open in limited release.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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