I keep making the same mistake over and over again. I'll go to see a movie that I've heard is good and I'll take notice of a particular actor. Then I'll see them in another movie that I also like, and now they're on my radar. Before too long I'll think to myself: you know, this person is great, I should track down more of their work. And then I'll start watching the movies that don't sound that interesting and don't have good reputations. And soon enough, I've watched enough shitty movies that I have no choice but to like that perfectly capable person a little less.
Not too long ago I rewatched Looper, and I thought: man, what a great movie. That got me to thinking about Edge of Tomorrow, the other gory time travel movie that featured Emily Blunt. And then I started to think about how much I liked Emily Blunt in Sunshine Cleaning when I saw it years ago. Suddenly I'm thinking: Man, Emily Blunt is great! (At no point did I remember how underwhelmed I had been by Gulliver's Travels. But if you've seen Gulliver's Travels then you'd understand how I could forget it.)
So I decided to try Wild Target just because she was in it, and that was definitely a mistake. Wild Target is about a woman (played by Blunt) who rips off an art collector so badly that he orders a hit on on her life, but she's so instantly charismatic that the hitman can't bring himself to kill her. In fact, not only does he not kill her, he risks his life to save her from the back up hitmen that get sent out to do the job he failed to do. The problem is that she's less of the charismatic free spirit she's meant to be and more of a narcissistic kelptomaniac. If I were that hitman maybe I wouldn't kill her on first sight, but around the third bout of childish pouting I might start to re-evaluate.
It's not that Blunt fails in the role, it's that the script fails her so terribly. There are a few scenes where she uses her feminine charms to manipulate men into doing her bidding, and because Blunt has such incredible charisma her character comes off the way it's supposed to at those times. But those scenes are just in the early going, and the rest of the movie asks her to do the impossible. Even if I believed in full grown people falling instantly in love there's no way that her inexplicable connection with a hitman would make sense: he's been a professional murderer since he was a teenager so there's no way he would be able to have a normal human relationship and she's clearly an irresponsible egomaniac, so why is their meet cute supposed to be cute?
It's a shame: every time I open Pandora's box I hope to find something amazing, but mostly I find that the movies I've never heard of fell through the cracks for a reason. If I hadn't watched Wild Target I would have gone on thinking that Emily Blunt as an infallible actress with a specific interest in gory time travel movies, but now I have to think of her as a talented person who is only as good as the movie she picks to be in. Truly, this is a tragic world we live in.
Winner: The Cat