Assassin Club (2023) Review

Quick Synopsis: An elite assassin is given his final contract and must kill seven people around the world, only to discover the targets are equally skilled assassins hired to kill him.

There are few things that frustrate me more as a reviewer than a film that’s just “meh”. A film that is so bland that it’s difficult to talk about. So thank the heavens for a film like Assassin Club, a film that gives me so much to talk about on account of being absolute shit. It’s a confusing mess, not in a “the plot is too complicated” way, but in a visual way. It’s like it was made with no idea how to visually tell a story. Choices are made with the shots and edits which are truly baffling. It’s almost as if they were hoping the audience would see a sequence of quick jump cuts and be fooled into thinking that what they were watching was exciting. But it’s not exciting, again, it’s shit. Nothing about it ever goes above generic, I don’t know how such talented performers could seem so amateur. Noomi Rapace is better than this, she has proven it again and again, so I don’t know what she thought was doing in this but it’s not working. Henry Golding, again, has proven his talent in films like Crazy Rich Asians and Snake Eyes, to the point where there is a discussion about him possibly being the new Bond. In those circumstances, the studio will be looking to films like this as a litmus test as to whether he can pull it off. I have to admit, Assassin Club doesn’t help his case; despite being the lead it doesn’t really give much of an indication of what he can actually do as an action star. Every action scene is cut to an incomprehensible mess that gives the appearance that they were cutting around his failures as a performer.

The actors aren’t helped by the script, which, again, makes some decisions which seem a bit weird. For example; it builds up one of the assassins as a mysterious mystery, their name is not known, and neither is their face or any other identifiable features. Logically, a mystery like this is done so that you can have a reveal later on where it turns out a character you thought was harmless turns out to be the mystery assassin. The fact that the other assassins get killed off so quickly indicates that the direction the story is going in will be based on “let’s uncover this mystery person”. Nope, she (oh yeah, the character is a she) gets revealed in the next few minutes. So what was the point of having them be a mystery in the first place? The script makes the characters idiotic too. A character is injected with poison and told “Give me the information I want and I’ll give you the antidote”. He refuses the antidote, choosing to die, but gives over the information anyway. This character, by the way, is played by Sam Neil, and his character really lets the film down. He constantly withholds information that will help Goldings’ character, just so it’s withheld from the audience. He justifies it by saying things like “I knew you were going to defeat them anyway”, but still; that information would be useful.

Films like this either need to be very smart, very slick, or very fun. This is neither. It’s so dumb it feels like a 90s movie, completely wasting its potential premise (a similar premise was seen in Smoking Aces, and they had the decency to have a VERY strong supporting cast). This should be an ensemble piece, it’s seven assassins sent to kill each other, why would you make that film and only have a singular plot thread? Keeping more of the assassins alive for longer would have meant that Rapace’s character wouldn’t have had to slam the face/heel revolving door quite as frequently as she does. There are also multiple instances where characters don’t take the really obvious choice that will solve their problem/allow them to escape. There’s no thread of intelligence running through the narrative, instead, there’s just a motorway of disappointment. It’s shot too badly to be slick. Some camera angles are chosen not because they are the best option, but because the director thought it would look impressive for the half a second it was used for, like they’d seen it be used in other films and thought “Hey, let’s copy that”, without understanding why those shots and techniques were used.

It’s also too dull to be fun. Everything about it has been done better by films which aren’t even great. It’s the film equivalent of a tribute act to a covers band, bringing absolutely nothing new to the table. In a year where John Wick showed just how good action films could be, all this shows us is that 65 has competition for “Worst film of the year”.

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