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Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 15.38%
Just Average: 15.38%
Pretty Crappy53.85%
Sucks: 7.69%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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Assassination (1987)
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Once-Fabulous Director Goes Quite Cold"
2 stars

Not everyone can count on a superb action film like "The Evil That Men Do" from Bronson every year, but, good gracious, is it too much to as for one that's at least adequately put together so you don't think the director had his eyes closed during the filming? I think not.

Englishman Peter Hunt made a spectacular directorial debut with 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, one of the top-three James Bond adventures of all time, but his career was definitely for the lesser afterwards. Gold, with Roger Moore, was occasionally fetching but lumbering and overlong; Death Hunt, with Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin, was only sporadically interesting; and the ill-advised sequel Wild Geese II was an abysmally dull cinematic endeavor that disgraced its outstanding predecessor. Still, while those films were negligible in places, their action sequences weren't horribly staged. The same can't be said for the political action-adventure Assassination, where he re-teams with Bronson, who plays Secret Service agent Jay "Killy" Killian, who's been assigned to protect First Lady Lara Craig (Jill Ireland: the real-life Mrs. Bronson), who, the day of her husband's inauguration, already finds herself targeted by an array of assassins. Let's not harp on the fact that the screenplay is chock-full of whopping improbabilities and sub-literate dialogue ("Are your salmon swimming upstream?" is used as a sexual quip), but the execution of it is below substandard: terribly-shaped scenes, pacing so wan it's practically non-existent, and action set pieces so eye-rollingly bad you'd think you're watching the film in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 episode. See Killian and the First Lady (referred to by the code name "One Momma" by the agents) outrun a truck driven by an Uzi-armed driver on a couple of motorcycles. See Killian (well, the stunt double who's a good thirty years younger than Bronson) jump on another motorcycle, jump off it before a rocket launcher missile hits it, and then use his own rocket launcher to fire at the perp as he's riding away. See Killian chase another assassin in a speedboat while the perp rides ahead on a jet ski, and then beach the boat and then carry on a gunfight on land and then play dead until the perp's right up on him so he can fire a little gun on him right before the perp confesses who hired him, as if Killian psychically knew the man wouldn't fire on him from further back. One doesn't expect the most airtight plotting or acumen-possessive action in a Charles Bronson star vehicle, but one does expect the writing to not induce guffaws every few seconds and action that's at least adequately staged on a cohesive basis. No such luck with Assassination. Hunt can't keep the shots matching, the spatial logistics well-defined, or the tension even remotely intact. I've seen grade-D horrror flicks with better staging, and when Hunt isn't fouling up the execution of the action he's smothering it with abysmal use of slow-motion and odious da-la-da-DA! scoring (both of which were present in Chuck Norris's equally-moronic Invasion U.S.A., which was also produced by Golan/Globus' Cannon studio). What somewhat elevates the film above a rock-bottom rating is the appealing rapport between its two stars. Bronson is relaxed and pleasant and even somewhat charming, and Ireland plays her feisty, take-no-guff character with snap and aplomb. They match up well together and manage to ingratiate more often than not, which is definitely no small feat, mind you, considering they're up against someone from their own team -- a director who started off so smashingly eighteen years prior but who succumbed to banality as if he'd sold his soul to Beelzebub for success and 'ol Cloven Hooves had come around to collect.

Unless you're a Bronson fan, skip this like the bubonic plague.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3347&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/29/06 12:50:10
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User Comments

3/31/13 Danielsan Great one for Bronson fans 4 stars
3/14/11 Durwood Somewhat predictable, but Bronson fans will like it! 3 stars
10/04/05 tony meh 3 stars
9/07/03 Sugarfoot At least it's better then the Death Wish sequels... 2 stars
4/09/03 Andrew Eastenegger This film is great, leave it alone, atleast he's made alot of money... 5 stars
3/06/03 Charles Tatum Sad teaming of an attractive coupling 1 stars
7/11/01 J Suprisingly underrated Bronson & Ireland were quite good. Silly it may be but it was fun. 4 stars
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  02-Mar-1987 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Peter R. Hunt

Written by
  Richard Sale

  Charles Bronson
  Jill Ireland
  Stephen Elliot
  Jan Gan Boyd
  Randy Brooks

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