Target Number One
|Target Number One|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Daniel Roby|
|Written by||Daniel Roby|
|Edited by||Yvann Thibaudeau|
Target Number One (released as Most Wanted in the United States) is a 2020 Canadian crime film directed by Daniel Roby. Based on the true story of Alain Olivier, a Canadian drug addict from Quebec who spent eight years in prison in Thailand in the 1980s after having been set up as an unwitting pawn in an espionage plot by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the film stars Josh Hartnett as Canadian investigative journalist Victor Malarek, investigating the arrest of drug addict Daniel Léger (Antoine Olivier Pilon). The film's cast also includes Jim Gaffigan, Stephen McHattie, Don McKellar, J.C. MacKenzie, and Amanda Crew.
In 1989, Victor Malarek (Josh Hartnett) a Canadian journalist investigates the circumstances surrounding the suspicious arrest of Daniel Leger (Antoine Olivier Pilon), a 25-year-old heroin addict serving time in a prison in Thailand and facing the death penalty.
Malarek is a dedicated investigative journalist working for The Globe and Mail newspaper who is being pressured by his boss to move to writing weekly feature articles. He comes across the strange case of a Canadian citizen under arrest in Thailand after a joint investigation by Canadian and Thai authorities. Leger is identified as a mastermind in the drug trafficking trade. Malarek's interest is pricked when he queries a few details with the Canadian authorities and receives push back. He decides to dig deeper and uncovers some worrying items about the case. He brings the case to his editor Art (J. C. MacKenzie) with a view to doing a piece. Art reluctantly agrees to let Malarek visit Thailand and interview the Thai authorities and Leger.
The film then splits and introduce Daniel Leger who is shown to be little more than a drug addict who naively took a job with a dealer Glen Picker (Jim Gaffigan). Picker befriends the naive Leger and offers to let him stay and work for him all the while intending to set up Leger for a pay-off from the Canadian Narcotics Police. He identifies Leger as a major player in the Thai Drug world and indicates that Leger can organise for a major shipment of heroin to be smuggled to Canada. The narcotics police in need of a major morale boosting drugs seizure fall for Picker's scam. The lead detective Frank Cooper (Stephen McHattie) makes an error in reviewing Leger and mistakes him for another criminal with a detailed criminal history.
Picker manipulates Leger into meeting with detective Cooper under the guise of a favour and naively believes Cooper to be a drug smuggler. The narcotics operation hits a snag when it's uncovered that Leger is nervous to travel to Thailand and he has had his passport withheld. The Police organise for Leger's passport to be issued, pay for the young man's flights, hotels and expenses in Thailand. Leger with no other option travels to Thailand and tries to organise for a drug buy but can only find a Tuk Tuk driver who can get 2 kgs of Heroin. The Canadian police agree to the deal but the deal goes south on the night.
Leger turns up with Cooper who is undercover and the suppliers arrive separately. There is a struggle and in the chaos that ensues Detective Cooper shoots his son Al Cooper (Cory Lipman) fatally. The drug suppliers are arrested alongside Leger and taken to a Thai prison.
Malarek meets and interviews Leger and uncovers the above details. Upon leaving the prison he shouts to Leger to plead guilty as he will likely be found guilty and given the death penalty otherwise. At the trial, Leger is unable to understand the proceedings. Detective Cooper testifies falsely that Leger is a hardened criminal with a long list of convictions in Canada. Leger pleads his innocence but once he has been found guilty he alters his plea to guilty and receives a 100 year sentence.
In Canada Malarek is feeling pressure for proceeding with the investigation. He loses his job at The Globe and Mail and TV and his wife leaves him due to the pressure they are under. A last ray of hope is offered when Malarek's article is read by the newly formed ethics investigation department. They review Leger's case and petition Leger to respond.
The film concludes with Leger's transfer from a Thailand prison to a Canadian prison. The young man kicks his addiction in the Thai prison. He then educates himself in the Thai judicial system and after serving 8 years manages to get a prison transfer. Malarek meets hi at the airport, where it is revealed that both of Leger's parents have passed but it is shown that Leger has a new positive outlook on life.
The film concludes with a note that Cooper and his fellow officers all received commendations for their actions. The investigation into their handling of the Leger case was watered down and led to the lead investigator retiring. Malarek moves to the politics beat to save his marriage but shortly returns to his passion of investigative journalism.
- Antoine Olivier Pilon as Daniel Léger
- Jim Gaffigan as Picker
- Josh Hartnett as Victor Malarek
- Stephen McHattie as Frank Cooper
- Cory Lipman as Al Cooper
- Don McKellar as Norm
- J. C. MacKenzie as Arthur
- Amanda Crew as Anna Malarek
Daniel Roby began his first research soon after concluding production of his 2007 debut film White Skin, and wrote the first draft of the script concurrently with his 2011 film Funkytown. However, he had difficulty attracting enough funding to make the film; although he took payment for the screenplay, he reinvested his directorial salary, as did the film's producers, into the film to keep it under its $7 million budget. To prepare the script, Roby attended the actual trials of Alain Olivier, flew to Thailand to interview witnesses, and read documents about the case. At one point he found an investor, had assembled a cast, and began pre-production, only to have the investor pull out.
The film made an estimated $138,000 from 72 theaters in its Canadian opening weekend.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 32 reviews, with an average rating of 6.67/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Although it suffers in comparison to similar suspense thrillers, Most Wanted benefits from solid casting and a taut, intelligent storytelling approach." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on seven critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Chris Knight of the National Post rated the film three stars out of five, writing that "The story, mostly devoid of car chases and gunfire except in one key scene, may strike some as a little dour, a touch too Canadian, and Target Number One's fate outside our borders remains to be seen. But it's a crafty crime thriller, a rough-and-ready Heritage Minute given room to bloom into something worthy of its feature length. Run it up the flagpole, I say."
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