Sam Rockwell hasn’t become the next-generation Jack Nicholson big-ticket movie star some pegged him to be, but the guy IS a singular presence onscreen, and he absolutely kills it in “Mr. Right.”
In more ways than one.
In the kind of role that could go Razzie-bad in the wrong hands, Rockwell hits it out of the park as Francis, a charming, dorky, self-effacing but ridiculously efficient assassin with a newly formed conscience.
Instead of killing his assigned targets, Francis has taken to eliminating the clients who ordered the hit in the first place. And he dons a red clown nose before taking out his enemies, just so director Paco Cabezas and screenwriter Max Landis can make it clear this film exists in a Jonathan Demme/John Woo/Quentin Tarantino universe, and we can’t take it literally.
Anna Kendrick has the Anna Kendrick role as the smart, fast-talking, neurotic, insecure Martha, who is rebounding from a breakup from her horrible boyfriend when she meets-cute with Francis in a gas station convenience store. Francis asks Martha on a date, and even though Martha’s instincts tell her he might be crazy, why not? Her friends are always telling her she needs to take chances.
It takes a long time for Martha to realize when Francis says things like, “Sorry, I had to go out to the parking lot to kill a guy,” he’s not joking. Once Martha DOES get it, she’s torn between running for her life and embracing this crazy romance. In other words, she might be as nuts as Francis.
The chemistry between Rockwell and Kendrick drives the movie. They’re fast and wonderful together. But “Mr. Right” has an abundance of strong supporting performances as well.
Tim Roth is hilariously fantastic as a hitman masquerading as an FBI agent. Anson Mount delivers strong work as the mobster who wants Francis dead. Katie Nehra is a deadpan home run as Martha’s roommate.
And the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, whose work in “Coffee and Cigarettes” is one of my favorite cameos of the last 15 years, delivers another effortlessly likable performances as a hired gun with shifting allegiances.
Like Rockwell’s Francis, “Mr. Right” wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s a movie that announces its intentions and its style early on, and if you’re not up for a hard-R violent comedy in the tradition of “Grosse Pointe Blank,” no harm no foul.
But if you ARE in the mood for such a film, here you go.
Focus World presents a film directed by Paco Cabeza and written by Max Landis. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated R (for violence and language throughout). Opens Friday at Arclight Cinemas and on demand.