Canadians can fuck up just as badly as anyone else can, how aboot that? Target Number One, a solid thriller inspired by true events is proof of that. 30 years had to go by for us to get the opportunity to see what actually happened. When it comes to these movies about journalists based on true stories, ever since Kill the Messenger I have had a hard time playing them. It’s like, I know we’re in deep shit, do I really want to know how actually deep it is? However, as soon as I hit that play button, all of those concerns go away. And I start feeling bad for not seeing it sooner.
Target Number One or Most Wanted is not a big movie but it’s engaging and easy to follow. Granted, there will be some non-linear storytelling but nothing you won’t be able to handle. The story is simple and straightforward while the characters feel very authentic. After the first five minutes, I already had my two heroes. The cast is surprisingly familiar featuring both familiar and new faces. What brings them together are their committed and believable performances. Josh Hartnett was excellent as Victor Malarek while this is the first time I saw Antoine Olivier Pilon and I can’t wait to see him again.
As a bonus, we get Canadian Lance Henriksen, Stephen McHattie (Pontypool), and talented Amanda Crew (Sex Drive). However, I think that comedian Jim Gaffigan stole the show here as ruthless and sleazy operator Picker. You will see a whole other side of him that you never knew was actually there. All of them brought to life these characters telling a story that just keeps on happening. Just as the flow of cash was diverted from anti-drug to anti-terrorist operations, you started to see the same pattern start emerging. Here’s a detailed NY Times article about The ‘Herald Square Bomber’ Who Wasn’t for further reading.
Daniel Léger is a young man living in Canada and trying to overcome his addiction to heroin. He has been clean for several months now but when he finds himself in the vicinity of some good heroin, Daniel gives in. This is how he gets entangled with Picker, a nasty drug dealer who has other plans for him. At the same time, investigative journalist Victor Malarek is looking for his next big story. As luck would have it, he follows up on an old lead and finds out something he shouldn’t have…
The most terrifying element of this movie is its brutal devotion to reality. We’re watching this sequence of events unfold, unable to help anyone or do anything. And it’s a fucked up sequence based on abuse of power, trust, and ultimately, abuse of your fellow humans. The same shit we have been going through since the dawn of time. However, at the same time, Target Number One is a movie that just flows off the screen without too much pressure or suspense. There’s no emotional milking or anything like that.
This also makes it a bit slow, especially in the middle. And I guess they could’ve trimmed at least 30 minutes off of that 2-hour running time. Still, I had no trouble finishing it, using any downtime to think about the absurdity of the situation. Plus, I’m a sucker for everything eighties so they got me there alright. Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies, check out Return to Paradise, more focused on the Thai side of the story. And while it’s pretty depressing, I suggest you take a look at a much more upbeat but still based on true events The Mule.
Director: Daniel Roby
Writer: Daniel Roby
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Stephen McHattie, Jim Gaffigan, Cory Lipman, Amanda Crew
Fun Facts: Based on the true story of Alain Olivier. Please visit the link only after you’ve seen the movie.