film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Assassin 2023 * * Stars


2023's Assassin isn't an awful movie. I've seen worse when it comes to techy argot. I mean it has intentions. It just leaves the viewer with dangling loose ends in their heads, trying to decipher why such a promising premise goes AWOL in the last half hour. The diegesis for Assassin is there for the taking, a flick about a black-ops soldier who goes into other people's bodies to commit kills. Talk about a murderous Freaky Friday gone wild. Too bad Assassin's director (Jesse Atlas) doesn't know when to quit while he's ahead. Yup, the film becomes a knotty mess, trying to David Lynch it for the masses, trying for the cinematic one up. Switcheroos, well they shouldn't be such a complicated concept.

But this one is and star Nomzamo Mbatha (as assassin Alexa) murders and whines till the cows come home, looking like the poor woman's Naomie Harris (and acting like her too). A butcher here, a rage there, a flashback, an awakening from frozen ice in a bathtub (don't ask). Mbatha's acting is middling, as is the rest of the cast. Oh and did I mention Bruce Willis co-stars as well, appearing like a weird sort of Greek chorus that's kinda unnecessary. If this was his swan song (and I think it is) then his webbed feet have been exposed. Man Die Hard was a long-arse time ago.

But hey, take in at least one final viewing for the dwindling Bruce-meister. The direction by Jesse Atlas here is not half bad. It's slick, atmospheric, and on the move, provoking a more mature version of something Brian A. Miller would've done back ten years ago (remember the Willis vehicles The Prince and Vice?). Bottom line: Assassin starts strong, sadly gets bogged down by twisty plot mechanics, and overly innovates when it could've just been lean and mean. Character "assassin-ed".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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