This crime drama seeks to honor the exposé written by Malarek in 1989, which leads to the unraveling of the cover-up. Unfortunately, none of these sentiments are reflected in the visual representation. All we get is a tenacious journalist and his never-ending quest for the truth. The journey in between has been abandoned, which is a criminal offense in and of itself.
Cast & Crew:
Daniel Roby| Director
Valerie D`Auteuil| Producer
Antoine Olivier Pilon| Actor
Josh Hartnett| Actor
Stephen McHattie| Actor
Jim Gaffigan| Actor
Don Mckellar| Actor
Amanda Crew| Actor
This crime thriller is a dramatized account of a grave miscarriage of justice suffered by Canadian citizen Alain Olivier in 1989 at the hands of federal agents from his own country. For more than eight years, the then-25-year-old man was imprisoned in one of Thailand’s most dangerous prisons.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a daredevil investigative journalist in Canada named Victor Malarek (Josh Hartnett) who feared no one and threw around cuss words during live interviews with dignitaries, many of whom were untrustworthy. That’s the initial picture painted by writer-director Daniel Roby in this ambitious biographical drama, and we were hooked for a while. The opening sequence is cliched: two henchmen chase the cocky journalist in a car to send a message, and he refuses to move. In a parallel universe, small-time junkie Daniel Leger (Antoine Olivier Pilon) has been robbed of all his money by Michael, his ‘crazy’ friend Glen Picker, and the same friend he is now shooting heroine with in a rented boat (Jim Gaffigan). Picker offers Leger a free place to stay in exchange for odd jobs. Moolah? 80 dollars plus tips Plus a free supply of drugs, and it’s no surprise that Leger is happy to oblige.
The drug syndicate in Thailand is making inroads into their territory, and the pressure on federal agent Frank Cooper (Stephen McHattie) and his subordinates to act is overwhelming. Picker, their top informant, has a drug lord by the neck, and all they need to do is set up a full-proof trap for him in Thailand. The stage is set, and the points are tallied. Malarek returns to the press release of Leger’s arrest a year later, desperate for an explosive story to cover, and arranges an interview with him. However, Malarek has been blacklisted by Thai police and the Canadian embassy, and he is now under 24-hour surveillance. ‘Target Number One’ (also known as ‘Most Wanted’ in the United States) is divided into two timelines, two scenarios, and two lives.
The trailer for this Canadian production was intriguing, but the same cannot be said for the full-length version: for one thing, the story should have revolved around Leger (especially with names like ‘Target Number One’ and ‘Most Wanted,’ no?) and his miseries in the Thai prison, rather than Malarek’s personal issues and professional missteps. Second, Antoine Olivier Pilon as Leger is a revelation, and the two main characters should have shared more screen time. In fact, the only time you care about the story is when Pilon appears – once during his interview with Malarek, and again when he is begging, pleading with Thai judges to hear his side of the story in court of law.
Josh Hartnett gives a strong performance as the self-righteous investigative journalist ‘trying to make the world a little bit better,’ but he slips in and out of character at times. Antoine Olivier Pilon is the best thing that has happened to ‘Target Number One;’ he speaks volumes even when he is staring away or speaking quietly. Jim Gaffigan isn’t the most convincing informant/rat in the world, but there are far more serious issues at hand than him being miscast.
Ronald Plante, the cinematographer, deserves praise for accurately capturing the essence of the era as well as all of the tension surrounding the case in question. Jorane’s music essentially puts the p in pity and the p in pathos; it is especially effective in intense scenes.
This crime drama aims to pay homage to Malarek’s 1989 exposé, which led to the alleged cover-up being exposed. Indeed, in his autobiography ‘Good Luck Frenchy,’ Olivier states that if it hadn’t been for Victor Malarek, he might never have returned to Canada or been able to tell his side of the story. Unfortunately, none of these sentiments are reflected in the visual representation. All we get is a tenacious journalist and his never-ending quest for the truth. The journey in between has been abandoned, which is a criminal offense in and of itself.