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Wild Target -- Film Review

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LONDON -- Jonathan Lynn's lamentable black comedy "Wild Target" again shows that attractive and charismatic actors can do nothing to save a movie that's charmless, pointless and witless. Bill Nighy plays the aristocrat of hit men, from a family of hit people, whose latest target, a thief (Emily Blunt), so captivates him that he lets her live. It's an aberration we live to regret.

Released without fanfare in the U.K., the film is unlikely to last long in cinemas there and only the names of the stars might carry it elsewhere, though it's easy to imagine both of them wishing it would just go away.

It always has been assumed that Nighy could perform the telephone book with aplomb, but "Target" has a screenplay that even his drollery and unexpected line readings cannot save. His usually brilliant manner of appearing surprised by the words he utters here smacks of genuine bemusement.

Blunt is agile of mind, face and body with a sly tongue that one might think could tickle the humor out of the tiniest winkle of comedy. She looks great, but the chronic thief she plays is such an annoyingly tiresome and poorly written creation that rather than try to make sense of it, she settles for hitting her marks and looking pretty.

For inexplicable reasons, hit man and target end up in a house in the country with someone played by Rupert Grint, who perhaps lost his way between "Harry Potter" films while trying to follow Daniel Radcliffe's path to post-Hogwarts success. Rupert Everett has a cameo as the art collector who hires the hit man, and Martin Freeman wanders in with a new set of dentures as another killer.

The only person appearing to have any fun is the venerable Eileen Atkins, who must have jumped at the role of Nighy's hit-woman mother because it takes her away from BBC costume series and puts a submachine gun in her hands. Quite why is not clear, and she no doubt never bothered to ask.

Opened: Friday, June 18 (U.K.) (Freestyle Releasing)
Production: Magic Light Pictures, Isle of Man Film, Matador Pictures
Cast: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Rupert Everett, Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Screenwriters: Lucinda Coxon, Pierre Salvadori
Producers: Martin Pope, Michael Rose
Director of photography: David Johnson
Production designer: Caroline Greville-Morris
Music: Michael Price
Costume designer: Sheena Napier
Editor: Michael Parker
No rating, 98 minutes