It’s pretty typical for an action/comedy to include a romantic sub-plot. It’s also quite common for that to be the worst part of the movie. However, ‘Mr. Right’ is a welcome exception to the rule. This big, goofy romp mixes adorable romantic comedy and hyper-stylized gunplay so effectively into such a wildly entertaining cocktail that it’s a surprise no one has ever done it this well before.
Anna Kendrick stars as Martha, a girl in the midst of a manic breakdown shortly after suffering through a particularly humiliating breakup. Actually, maybe she was always that nutty and the breakup just sparked a particularly intense breakout. It’s hard to say. Fortunately, she’s about to meet the man of her dreams, Francis. He’s played by Sam Rockwell and is just as weird, wacky and colorful as she is. He’s also a hitman, but does so in wild ways like dancing through shoot-outs, wearing a clown nose, and killing those who hire him as a perverse lesson. Anyhoo, they meet and fall instantly in love. He’s honest about all of his murdering up front, but she assumes that it’s a joke. Then she realizes it’s all too real, and the next thing you know the pair find themselves in the middle of an action flick.
The screenplay from Max Landis mixes genres and tones so effectively that you’ll wish ‘American Ultra’ had worked this well. (The movies are actually connected in a shared universe, but let’s not think about that too much.) A big reason is the tone. There’s no unnecessary grunginess or bleakness here. It’s a big candy-colored explosion of goofball entertainment caught between two genres. Director Paco Cabezas helps quite a bit by shooting it in blindingly bright colors and filling his frames with goofy little details of trashy Americana. It looks and feels like a cartoon, whether it’s the charming funny romance sequences or balletic action scenes that recall vintage John Woo with a hint of Buster Keaton.
Of course, as with all movies with even a hint of rom-com, much of the success of the flick depends on the cast. Thankfully, the movie has an ideal duo in Kendrick and Rockwell. Both are fantastic actors filled to the brim with eccentricity that they let loose here. They’re so goddamn charming together that it’s impossible not to smile like an idiot watching their romantic and bloody dances. Toss in some fantastic action scenes, crackling dialogue, mountains of meta movie humor and some fabulous supporting performances (especially from a grizzled Tim Roth and hysterical RZA), and you’ve got a giddy sugar rush of entertainment. It’ll be a genuine crowd-pleaser for those who enjoy neurotic love stories and hyper-violent action flicks. Hopefully that audience is out there because this sucker deserves to be a hit.