Rumor has it that Netflix is on its way out. If so, that will save me $20 a month, which I gladly pay for the people who also use my account. Until then, it is a useful thing to have to peruse when inspiration is not striking me as readily as it does at other times. While scrolling past the various titles, I often noticed one called Mr. Right (2015), with Anna Kendrick adorned with a red clown nose and toting a pistol. I like Anna Kendrick movies, although I had not heard of this one. Given the amount of attention I have given films in recent years, this fact may be as surprising to you as it is to me. I suppose this is why we still have Netflix. At any rate, a lull in the viewing schedule led to me finally giving in and seeing what the mysterious poster is all about. I did not hate the experience.
Though the movie is called Mr. Right, the first person we meet is Martha McKay (Anna Kendrick). It is an inauspicious introduction as she walks into her home to find her boyfriend cheating on her. As she storms back out of their home, she is followed by accusations that she has no sense of adventure. The one who is currently on an adventure is Francis Munch (Sam Rockwell). Okay, it is not your typical, hey, why not a day spent riding roller coasters kind of outing. You know, like you or I would do? Instead, he is the eponymous hitman, but his targets are not your usual assassination fare. Instead, he goes after the people who hire him because he sees them as bad people. We see him do this, and we are filled in later by his former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) partner Hopper (Tim Roth), who Francis knows as Knox, as to the reason for Mr. Right’s strange arrangement. It is the result of Francis’ disillusionment, as well as some bumps on the head, all gained from the work he did for the government. Knox is after Francis in order to bring in the rogue agent, alive or dead. Such business brings Francis to New Orleans, which is where Martha lives. She is not taking her break-up well, but a chance meeting with Francis in a convenience store leads to them spending the day with one another. While they pursue a variety of activities, Francis coolly avoids a number of attempts on his own life without Martha catching on to there being a problem. We are also introduced to the two mafia brothers that brought Francis to town, Richie (Anson Mount) and Von Cartigan (James Ronsone). The problem is the two do not agree with each other, and secretly want the other dead. When they cannot decide on their intended target, Von opts to have Francis killed in order to hide it from his brother. As such, Francis has a number of people gunning for him. This does not get to him, and instead he takes Martha on a real date. He even kills a hired gun sent to murder him in the parking lot without her knowing. Later on, at the place she is sharing with her sister Sophie (Katie Nehra), she gets Francis to open up about why he is so calm all the time. In doing so, he helps her to realize that she has the same grace under pressure, even if it does come by learning to catch knives thrown at each other. It is only the next day when she sees him actually kill people, this time representatives of the Cartigans, that she realizes that is actually his occupation. Shortly after returning home, she is visited by Knox, who is posing as a Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent. He fills her in on the rest of Francis’ story, including why he wears a clown nose while he works. Of course, it is all a ruse to draw Francis to the location, which works, though it happens at the same time as another attack by the Cartigans. Their men manage to kidnap Martha before her and Francis can get away. All points converge on the Cartigans headquarters, though Martha proves more than capable of handling their assorted goons. Of course, the arrival of Francis helps. He leaves a gun between the two brothers, who kill each other. Outside, though, Knox is waiting. What saves Francis this time is Steve (RZA), a thug the Cartigans had brought on, but whom Francis had pointed out was not being treated well by the crime organization. Having made up earlier, Francis and Martha leave the country together. They are still being pursued by Francis’ enemies, though they can anticipate these moves as easily as he had in New Orleans. Our final shot is of Martha, red ball on her snout, killing a would-be assassin.
Mr. Right is not a terribly memorable film. Still, there are a few things that a Catholic reviewer like me can support. What I will not do is make the comparison between this strange energy current that first Francis, and then Martha, can tap into for being good at what they do, and the Holy Spirit. If you notice from any of my reviews of the Star Wars films, I did not do this when discussing the Force. That is essentially what Francis describes when telling Martha about what he is able to do. The Holy Spirit is more than an “energy field that surrounds us,” as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) describes the Force in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). He goes on to say that is binds the galaxy together. Since God is bigger than any galaxy, talking about the Force and Holy Spirit, or whatever it is that Francis taps into, in the same context does not work. What I do appreciate about the film is the eventual reticence Francis has for killing, even though for much of the time he does so effortlessly. Even better, though, is when Martha asks rhetorically whether somebody who is bad has the capacity to love. She says this as she is wrestling with her feelings in the wake of finding out fully what Francis does for a living. Because of what had transpired between them, she is conflicted. The answer to her query, simply, is yes. God does not create evil, and it is Him that created us all. Bad enters in when we allow it to, but it cannot erase the good with which we are born from the moment of conception. The most hardened criminal in history can have a change of heart because that is what God is always calling us into through his desire for us.
In this light, I do not like the fact that at the end of Mr. Right, Martha seems to become an assassin as well. There are some other questionable moments, such as sex and violence. Thankfully, there is no nudity. As I said in the previous paragraph, there is nothing special about this movie. There are worse ones, though, which is not bad in the grand scheme of things.