Review by Sean Boelman
Despite a cast whose track record is inconsistent at best and a premise that seems like a recipe for disaster, Daniel Roby’s newest film Most Wanted is shockingly pretty good. A fascinating combination of journalistic drama and crime thriller, this is a rare popcorn flick that actually has something to say.
Based on a true story, the movie follows a junkie who gets arrested and convicted as part of a crackdown on an international drug operation and the journalist who hopes to set him free by exposing the law enforcement officers who put him there. And even though this may seem like an uplifting tale of redemption, it’s really a bleak and gritty look at the problems with the system.
There is a lot going on in this film, with multiple moving aspects woven together. However, Roby manages to balance the three storylines surprisingly well, bringing each of them to a natural and satisfying emotional conclusion while still delivering and emphasizing the political message he hopes to convey.
While the persuasive element of the movie can be a bit aggressive at times, Roby’s film never reaches the level of adulation that some other journalist-centric movies have hit in the past. Instead of giving the reasons why freedom of the press should be supported, the film makes a phenomenal case for it by providing an excellent example of it in action.
The movie is at its best when it is telling the story of the wrongfully convicted man that serves as the center of the story. He is the aspect upon which all of the other storylines are hinged, and his arc is extremely compelling. By humanizing the character who makes mistakes yet is extremely sympathetic, the film has much more of an emotional impact.
Antoine Olivier Pilon is the absolute highlight of the cast as that lead character, giving a performance that is extremely nuanced and emotional. Josh Hartnett’s performance is also a standout, although it is less subtle in nature. The scenes that the two have together are among the best in the movie.
The film also works quite well in terms of its executions. The cinematography and production design do an excellent job of periodizing the story. That said, the true MVP of this movie is the score by Jorane, which does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of making the narrative feel urgent and suspenseful.
Daniel Roby’s Most Wanted has a lot on its plate, but everything ultimately comes together into a satisfying whole. For audiences looking for an upscale yet entertaining thriller, this is one of the best offerings in recent months.
Most Wanted hits VOD on July 24.