Target Number One review: Impressive performances make it an interesting watch

Intrepid Canadian reporter Victor Malarek persuades his Editor to let him investigate the detention of junkie Daniel Léger in Thailand. No, it's not a junket. He's an investigative journalist who discovers the junkie's a fall guy.

There's none of the haunting terror of Midnight Express, which was based on the true story of an American who is jailed for life in a Turkish hellhole for smuggling hash and makes plans to escape unlike the junkie in the film under review who is resigned to his lot. It's not as if Thai jails are idyllic like their beaches, but the titular character suffers for several years and would have probably rotted in prison if the parallel protagonist, journalist Victor Malarek, hadn't uncovered the inconvenient truth.

One look, one brief encounter is sufficient for the tenacious journo to know the jailbird is no kingpin in the drug trafficking trade. “Can't buy yourself protection for a drug lord?” he asks the battered and bruised fellow who, as viewers already know, has been set up by fellow Canadians.

But truth is invariably stranger than fiction. Director Daniel Roby changed the name of the real life drug addict Alain Olivier to Daniel Leger in this long-drawn out movie, whose duration could have been snipped as judiciously as the cross-cutting between the lives of the two protagonists.

Antoine Olivier Pilon essays the naive French-Canadian junkie who gets entangled in the web of deceit that results in a disastrous sting and a spell on Death Row until salvation by Josh. Hartnett's dedicated journo who allows work to take precedence over personal life. Most hateful to watch is Glen Picker, the greedy, congenital liar played by Jim Gaffigan.

Certainly, there will be some who would want the narrative to move at a brisker pace. But where the director and scriptwriter score is in the nicely fleshed-out characters, all of whom are played by well cast actors.

Film: Target Number One

Cast: Josh Hartnett, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Jim Gaffigan, Stephen McHattie, Don McKellar, J.C. MacKenzie, Amanda Crew

Director: Daniel Roby

Platform: Zeeplex on Zee5

Rating: 3.5

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