Directed by Andrew Arguello and MJ Palo, The Target List is a 2021 short action film produced by Mad Wife Productions. With Palo and John Reizer lending their writing credits to the endeavor, the film stars Jessica Culaciati, Dan Bailey and Naomi Plasterer.
Running at a brisk length of ten minutes, The Target List charts the journey of survival of a couple of scientists who have just invented a miracle cure for cancer. With large-scale implications of such cutting edge research becoming evident, particularly 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 to doom their research forever. However, fate, it seems, has other plans as two of the scientists manage to escape. With their life and research on the line, the two scientists will do everything they can to survive and thwart the plans of the evil conglomerate that is conspiring to prevent the medicine from getting into the hands of the public.
The first thing noticeable about the whole production is that the casting is damn near perfect with every character fully embracing the outlandish narrative and what the script expects them to do. Jessica Culaciati is terrific as Donna while Dan Bailey as Bruno 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 losing none of the thrill and danger in the process. Developing Big Pharma as the overarching bad guy out to stop a cancer cure might be considered dumb in the real world. However, the power of the creative talent in the screenwriters is visible in the fact that they manage to take this very outlandish idea and transform it into a ten minute action film that will satisfy even the most ardent of action fans.
Another great aspect about the movie is its crisp cinematography. Andrew Arguello manages to capture the action well, using shaky cam to a minimum. Not only is the lighting properly done but the colors and hues give the whole film an expensive look. This will undoubtedly help with the marketing of the short to the masses. 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 tense moments.
The only gripe that I have with the film is that some setpieces need a bit of polishing over in regards to the CGI. The subpar CGI is most noticeable in bullet holes and in the burning car. While this may be due to the limited budget, the subpar CGI in no way distracts from what is, in essence, a terrifically entertaining film. However, if this particular aspect were improved, an already appealing film would become even better.
Tightly paced and full of action and thrills, The Target List is a potent short film that manages to squeeze so much into its short running time. While some special effects shots do require a bit of polishing over, the creative talent and technical prowess evident in the production cannot be dismissed. At its core, The Target List embraces its outlandish idea wholeheartedly and moves to have terrific fun with its premise. With both the cast and the crew seemingly having a good time, the film is thus a win for everyone involved in its making.
Available to rent or buy on several streaming platforms, The Target List gets eight out of ten stars from this reviewer.
Can you spare eleven minutes?
Watch The Target List pilot movie on Amazon for $3.99 and help us produce the full feature film. We want to wake up the world! Please rate and review the movie on the IMDB Page and the Amazon platform after watching the production.