Assassin Club

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

Assassin Club
dir Camille Delamarre
scr Thomas Dunn
prd Kieran Corrigan, Jordan Dykstra, Todd Lundbohm, Emanuele Moretti, Ellen S Wander
with Henry Golding, Sam Neill, Noomi Rapace, Daniela Melchior, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Anastasia Doaga, Claudio Del Falco, Bruno Bilotta, Dafne Renate Broglia, Lorenzo Buran, Massimo Rosa, Sheena Hao
release It 2.Feb.23,
UK 14.Apr.23, US 19.May.23
23/Italy Paramount 1h51

neill rapace melchior

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golding and melchior
There's plenty of talent in this energetic thriller, from the lively cast to a range of gorgeous European locations. So it's frustrating that this is such a silly concoction, mashed together from elements of much better movies. Not only is the plot jarringly generic, but the swerving camerawork turns the action into a dizzying mess. Meanwhile, director Camille Delamarre encourages the cast to play everything far over the top.
Working for a shady government agency, Rome-based sharp-shooter Morgan (Golding) takes out the world's worst bad guys. Then his handler Caldwell (Neill) gets him into a game with six other assassins, and whoever is left standing will earn a cool $6 million. Annoyingly, this delays Morgan's hopes of getting out of the business to spend time with charity-worker girlfriend Sophie (Melchior). And it puts him on a collision course with the enigmatic and ruthless killer Falk (Rapace), who by day is head of France's security division. But who's actually pulling the strings here, and why?
First, a prologue wrong-foots the audience in obvious ways. This game has something to do with an heiress (Doaga) who's angry that an assassin murdered her beloved daddy. While each surprise that emerges is more preposterous than the last, most viewers will only be interested in fight scenes that come along every few minutes. Each is sleek and viciously violent, but shot and edited in a shaky way that completely obscures the choreography. And it's accompanied by a standard score and bombastic sound mix.

In early scenes, actors find some intriguing ways to layer nuance into their roles, especially in the way they interact. But none of the characters are terribly coherent. And later on, everyone begins overplaying it, snarling and growling to the rafters. Golding just about rises above this with his sheer charm, connecting nicely with Melchior's perpetually confused girlfriend. Neill provides some grizzled gravitas, but quickly becomes almost comically shifty. And Rapace grounds things nicely as a cop in between her scenes an absurdly cartoonish villain.

Since it becomes apparent very early on that the movie's high production values are masking some serious deficiencies in writing and directing, unintended humour worms its way into most scenes. It's the kind of film that sparks unexpected laughter in its most melodramatic moments, as cliches continually make appearances in the most ridiculous places imaginable. As a result, there's plenty of entertainment here, and the movie remains gripping without ever being thrilling.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 11.Apr.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall