Most Wanted

  • 15 Aug - 21 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

A grotesque case of cops being so eager to bust a drug dealer that they unwittingly create one, Daniel Roby's Most Wanted adapts a true story in which a young Canadian (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) wound up spending years in a Thai prison for a crime he was practically forced to commit. Josh Hartnett plays the real Canuck investigative journalist Victor Malarek, whose life has already inspired a couple of biopic-like productions, and who doggedly pursued the truth here; but the pic may draw more attention stateside as a very against-type outing for wholesome comic Jim Gaffigan, who plays the scuzzy informant who sets this upsetting story in motion.

Pilon's Daniel Léger is an addict who has been clean for six months, working in a forest far from those who might tempt him back to his old life. But his plans to start over in Vancouver go south mere hours after his return: The friend who'd promised to rent him a room instead strands him on a boat with Gaffigan's Picker, a volatile party guy, aiming to make the kid dependent on him.

Picker hires Danny to help on charter-fishing trips, feeding him tiny bags of drugs and tell tales about his exploits as a smuggler. In truth, Picker is a low-level informant for Sgt. Cooper (Stephen McHattie), a going-nowhere narcotics cop in desperate need of a newsworthy bust. When Picker tells Cooper he knows someone involved in major drug smuggling from Thailand, the cop agrees to pay him 80 grand if they can execute a successful sting.

Which is harder than it sounds, because the only thing Daniel ever did on his previous trips to Southeast Asia was buy drugs for his own consumption. He knows nothing about wholesaling. Soon the reluctant, worried young man is being coerced into meetings with Sgt. Cooper, who pretends he's a dealer in search of a new supplier.

Meanwhile, the film is flash-forwarding to Toronto scenes in which up-and-coming reporter Malarek is hitting speed bumps in his career. Nevertheless, Malarek smells something fishy in government press releases about a Canadian who got busted with drugs in Thailand, and, despite strong discouragement from officials, he hops a plane to dig up the truth.

Quick and pretty constant cutting between different threads of this story keep Most Wanted from feeling as long as it actually is, but it also keeps us from committing fully to any one story, all of which feel slightly underwritten.

– Compilation