MOVIE: MOST WANTED
STARRING: JOSH HARTNETT; STEPHEN MCHATTIE; ANTOINE OLIVIER PILON; JIM GAFFIGAN
DIRECTED BY: DANIEL ROBY
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
A movie such as Most Wanted is incredibly frustrating for a film critic. You take all this time to watch a two hour movie that has a solid premise, a true crime story, and a solid collection of respected actors, and the final result is a big thud. It’s a tolerable film. You will tolerate the runtime because you wait, hoping there will be a big payoff. That never arrives in Most Wanted. Director/writer Daniel Roby takes the approach of telling the story from two sides, the reporter Victor Malarek (Josh Hartnet) and the wrongfully accused criminal Daniel Leger (Antoine Olivier Pilon). The story is all cut and dry and the final result is that Most Wanted spins the wheels and never takes us anywhere.
What happened was Daniel Leger was a Canadian native, low-level drug junky, who found himself stuck in a wrongful drug sting. He was a petty thief, that would do what he could to support his addiction. Putting himself in unlucky situations can lead to bad luck and a friend hooks Daniel up with a drug dealer by the name of Picker (Jim Gaffigan), only problem is Picker is not who he says he is. He’s an undercover cop helping federal agent Frank Cooper (Stephen McHattie) to score a big drug bust. That makes Daniel the marked man, but they don’t seem to realize that Daniel is a nobody. Someone with no criminal record and being set up to take the fall, but the agents are so hell bent on getting someone, anyone, that the fall will take place in the Philippines, putting Daniel in a prison cell for the rest of his life. That is, until Victor Malarek became involved.
When we think about movies where a journalist helps save the life of a prisoner, there are many that come to mind. Recently, Jeremy Renner made the film Kill the Messenger, which was about the arms deals in the Iran/Contra scandal, which had similar issues as Most Wanted, but had much more intrigue on the work of discovering information, finding the problem, and the threats that come from the government. Most Wanted has solid dramatic moments, specifically when Malarek visits Leger in prison, but when the story becomes clear, the narrative goes through the predictable steps.
The one thing that I began to wonder midway through was what ever happened to Josh Hartnett? His work here is solid, arguably the only thing that sticks out, and it was the first movie I had seen him in since 2007’s 30 Days of Night. The Black Hawk Down star seemed like a rising star in the early 2000’s and here he seems more mature, committed to the role, and works well in dramatic stories. Sadly, everything else around him is as exciting as watching paint dry.
Overall, Most Wanted is not deep enough as it believes it is, and not entertaining as you want it to be. I am a big fan of true crime dramas, documentaries, or mini-series and there are plenty of those available elsewhere. Director Daniel Roby has the skills and Most Wanted might have been an interesting article to read in a newspaper, it just doesn’t transfer to an engaging drama. What is Most Wanted is least desired.
Written by: Leo Brady