Daniel Roby’s deftly directed thriller Target Number One fictionalizes the true story of a Quebecois drug addict who was imprisoned in Thailand as a result of a set-up by Canadian intelligence in the 1980s. Taking some of its procedural cues from Spotlight, Target Number One is a kinetic, uncompromising look at the impacts and importance of journalism on the overreach of power in counter-intelligence.
Target Number One follows the set-up and imprisonment of Daniel Leger (Antoine Olivier Pilon), a down-on-his-luck drug addict. Concurrently, the film also follows Globe & Mail journalist Victor Malark (Josh Hartnett) as he investigates Leger’s case.
Roby’s screenplay strikes a delicate balance between the two juxtaposed stories, creating a narrative where information is disseminated slowly and relations between characters and events are initially ambiguous. Profoundly reliant on the terrific performances of Pilon (best known for his breakout role in Xavier Dolan’s 2015 feature Mommy) and Hartnett, who’s career path has taken him to roles in lesser seen pictures.
Perhaps most importantly, Target Number One illuminates the disturbing yet largely unfamiliar true story of Alain Olivier. Arriving at a time when protests are erupting across the world against police brutality and the prison industrial complex, Target Number One is a compelling, if unpoignant, examination of the intersection of carceral politics and the war on drugs, and its disproportionate effect on the marginalized.
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Mark Barber: @WorstCinephile