Most Wanted Movie Review
Most Wanted, not the most memorable. Josh Hartnett headlines the new crime drama about an investigative journalist who stumbles across a potential conspiracy surrounding the imprisonment of a Canadian citizen by Thai authorities, a story that flashes sparks but not much else.
Written and directed by Daniel Roby, Most Wanted has the makings of a solid investigative thriller or drama about a man wrongfully accused, but lacks thematic focus. Though Hartnett is the marquee name, he disappears for long chunks of time to focus on the film’s true protagonist, played by Antoine Olivier Pilon. Pilon delivers an engaging performance as a low-level drug addict who gets drawn in over his head, but you can’t shake the feeling that even he doesn’t quite get his due here.
Marketed as an investigative thriller, Most Wanted promises to be something it isn’t: a riveting investigative thriller. The movie begins as such, with Roby focusing on Victor Malarek (Hartnett) as he begins work on his latest piece. But at some point along the way, Most Wanted shifts to telling how Daniel Leger (Pilon) landed in his less than favorable predicament. Pilon’s story is compelling, but in the process of telling it Roby loses sight of the bigger picture. The journalistic angle, arguably the most compelling aspect of the production (the marketing team sure seems to think so, too) ultimately falls flat, and Hartnett’s character arc along with it. Roby attempts to spice up the drama with a halfhearted conflict between Malarek and his wife/family, but again misses the mark; we’re here to see Malarek uncover and ultimately bring down a conspiracy, which is inspired by a true story.
Alternatively, Leger’s story--trapped in a Thai prison and ultimately breaking his drug addiction--had the makings of great drama, but again Roby comes up just a little short, deciding to depict in detail the events leading up to his imprisonment more than anything else. While this gives Jim Gaffigan the opportunity to deliver a subtly terrifying performance, the film wraps up with the feeling that the best stuff was left to the imagination.
Most Wanted is a serviceable movie and easy enough to watch, but it plays as if Roby wanted to make two separate movies and couldn’t quite decide which he wanted to do. The movie ends up in that inevitable spot of trying to be two different things at once, and the end product suffers as a result.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.