Directed by Andrew Arguello and MJ Palo, Target List is a 2023 action film produced by Mad Wife Productions. The film stars Rachel Alig, Justin Ray, Wendy Feign, Charlie Manoukian and Gregory Klino. MJ Palo and John Reizer are the writers for this film.
Running at almost two hours, Target List starts with a group of five scientists who have just invented a remedy for cancer. With large-scale implications of such cutting-edge research becoming bad news for big pharma who would see a hit to their profits if such a drug found its way to the masses, an assassin is dispatched to get rid of the scientists so that the medicine never sees the light of day.
However, to the victims’ good fortune, the assassin fails to eliminate two of the scientists who get away with their lives. With their lives and research hanging in the balance, the surviving scientists will do everything they can to outsmart the enemy, escape the killers and thwart the plans of the evil corporation that is conspiring to prevent the medicine from benefiting the public.
There are several things to like about Target List. The film takes the basic premise of good vs evil or David vs. Goliath and gives it a modern spin. On one hand is this all-powerful entity that can have you disappeared or killed for messing with their financial interests while on the other hand, we have scientists who have nothing but their minds and their wit to rely upon. This story of underdogs going up against a seemingly indestructible enemy is a common mainstay in modern cinema and what Target List does differently is it humanises the stakes so that the audience can identify with the protagonists.
The casting is fantastic, and each actor does his or her character justice. Every character fully embracing the outlandish narrative and what the script expects them to do. Rachel Alig is terrific as Donna while Justin Ray as Clyde also manages to impress. Combining witty commentary with a constant threat to life, script writers Palo and Reizer develop a narrative that is funny and charming while ensuring that none of the thrill and danger is lost in the process.
Developing Big Pharma as the overarching bad guy out to stop a cancer cure might be considered overly simplistic in our world but with the Opioid crisis and the Covid emergency, there are plenty of real-life examples of evil corporations to draw from.
The screenwriters should be lauded for the fact that they manage to take this very outlandish idea and transform it into a full-blown action film that will satisfy even the most ardent of genre fans. With wild stunts and bombastic action sequences, the action in the film is nonstop and helps to elevate the tension and thrill of the story. Another great aspect about the movie is its crisp cinematography. The cinematographer manages to capture the action well, using shaky cam to a minimum. Not only is the lighting properly done but the colours and hues give the whole film that distinct visual flair. In addition, the sound editors behind the project also deserve a special shoutout. Kudos to the sound and stunt team for making the gunfights and knife play look and feel authentic and interesting. The pulsating soundtrack, in particular, adds to the tension during key moments, helping the action-packed adventure barrelling along to its inevitable end.
The direction is good, and the duo of Andrew Arguello and MJ Palo manage to keep the narrative flowing smoothly. Exposition dumps are few and far between as the audience is allowed to invest themselves in the characters before the shooting starts. This helps later when our two protagonists manage to get themselves in a whole lot of trouble. Throughout its entire 100-minute runtime, there is not a single dull moment in the entire film as the twists and violence keep our eyeballs firmly glued to the screen. The finale, while predictable, does a nice job of wrapping all the narrative threads and gives our heroes a fitting and proper sendoff.
Tightly paced and full of thrills, Target List is a potent action film that manages to both entertain and impress. It does not reinvent or revolutionise the genre and it doesn’t need to. This is a film that should be enjoyed with friends to make the best of a slow Saturday evening. At its core, Target List embraces its outlandish idea wholeheartedly and moves to have terrific fun with its premise. With both the cast and the crew bringing their A-game to the table, the film is thus a win for everyone involved in its making.
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