In Target List, five researchers announce a ground-breaking cure for cancer. It doesn't take long for them to realize that there some, I'm looking at you big pharma, who aren't particularly happy about this discovery and will do whatever it takes to stop it. Targeted by assassins, two researchers survive their attacks but quickly find themselves on the run and being framed for the crimes against their peers.
An action suspense with surprisingly effective comic moments, Target List soars on the strength of co-leads Rachel Alig, as Donna, and Justin Ray as Clyde. The two possess such a marvelous chemistry that you can't help but want to see them work together over and over and over again. Alig, whose work I've previously seen in Last Call at Murray's, is an absolute spot-on delight as Donna with an ability to pull off the necessary balance of action, drama, and somewhat quirky humor. Alig adds a layer of emotional resonance that makes you realize that even while you're laughing there's definitely some seriousness going on in the film's messaging.
Justin Ray similarly shines as Clyde, whose aura constantly reads as "in way over my head" but never in a caricaturish way. Ray's impeccable timing alongside Alig is a joy to watch throughout. Ray's won several acting awards on the ultra-indie fest circuit over the years and I'll never forget his Attack of the Killer Donuts.
Seriously, go look it up. I swear.
Adapted from a short film by the same name, Target List is a film with big messages made palatable but absolutely undeniable. I'm not sure the filmmakers realized they were sending their film to a film journalist currently dealing with cancer, but I can't deny I may have cheered both Donna and Clyde a little bit along the way.
The rest of the film's ensemble cast is also strong and it's clear that co-directors Andrew Arguello and MJ Palo were able to communicate their vision for the film as they certainly got this cast all on the same page.
The script by Palo with John Reizer for the most part rides that perfect balance between its more dramatic moments and perfectly placed moments of humor that never distract. While they're probably not going to get invited to any big pharma conventions anytime soon, Reizer and Palo have a point and they make it beautifully.
Arguello lenses the film quite effectively and knows just when to ease up on the tension. Likewise, he wisely tunes in to Alig's physicality and facial expressions. Alig is one of those actresses who can communicate an entire dialogue with non-verbal cues.
Original music by Ryan Clark companions the film quite nicely. While the film occasionally shows its indie roots, Target List is an engaging and thought-provoking action/thriller that gets it right by letting us also bond with these characters along the way. Currently available on Amazon Prime Video and TubiTV, Target List is a great view for anyone who wants a compelling and suspenseful flick with a message that matters.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic