5 out of 10

Release Date: 9th March 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: JK Amalou (Deviation)

Cast: Danny Dyer, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Holly Weston, Anouska Mond, Lyneah Johnson with Eddie Webber and Robert Cavanah

Writer: JK Amalou

Trailer: ASSASSIN (2015)

Assassin_poster_webDanny Dyer‘s new feature is a straight forward and, if you’re an undemanding kind of viewer who likes to unwind to this kind of by-the-number thriller, enjoyable little film.  This is a way better than the normal crap Mr Dyer used to turn his hand to. It seems that the recent release of Blood Shot was a hangover from the old days and his ascent since Vendetta is set to continue.

Assassin‘s plot moves predictably. Danny Dyer (HUMAN TRAFFIC) plays an assassin called Jamie. He rides a cool motorbike and does most of his hits for local crime kingpins turned legit property developers the Arthurs (MARTIN KEMP and GARY KEMP – THE KRAYS). His cushty life-style comes off the rails when he falls in love with one of the people he is supposed to ‘off’. Instead he hides her in a ‘safe house’ but The Arthurs know what he’s up to because he’s a bit dopey and indiscreet (unlike real assassins). Why our hero had to fall for a mouthy, blonde, coke-fiend is a mystery but then love is blind.

It’s with pleasure that I get to report that this movie was a hell of a lot better than I was expecting. The last time Danny Dyer and the director JK Amalou teamed up was on the very, very, very shit Deviation, a serial killer flick which had zero thrills or spills and probably contained Mr Dyer’s funniest unintentional performance to date. Assassin contains competent performances all around and it’s very nice to see The Kemp Brothers on screen who effortlessly bring a touch of class to proceedings. There is also traces of talent behind the scenes as the cinematography and location hunter seem to have taken their briefs seriously. The writing is a degree better than youd expect in this kind of thing, yet it doesn’t soar the heights of Mr Dyer’s current benchmark Vendetta. That it doesn’t is down to the plot which is riddled with plot holes and unconvincing  turns that make our Jamie the least convincing movie assassin in some time. A) He’s very conspicuous with his bike B) He’s very indiscreet in trying to hide his new girlfriend C) Everybody in the movies runs away to Brighton. In real life, I suspect all you have to do to find a missing person is go to the Prom. The killings are strangely bloodless but brutally quick – there’s no torture which is good. These scenes are well framed and choreographed.

It’s the action sequences that fall short – a scene at the safe house is bungled because of bad editing and weird direction. One henchman is trying to get in the front door for about 10 minutes then when he is finally shot in the back (accompanied by an unusual burst of Dyer-isms “Have that you, twat!” – totally out of character considering how taciturn he was up to that point) four times he still gets to run off only to be shot dead in the next scene set miles away? There’s not much chemistry between Danny Dyer and Holly Weston (SPLINTERED) so there’s no desperation in their flight or love. She’s just a coke head (simple and most boring).

The closing scenes are very good for this kind of movie. They are full of introspection and give the whole film some belated depth, so as at least we have a moment or two to engage with our dopey hero. Was it all worth it? He should have just shagged her, then killed her and kept his nice little earner with the Kemp Brothers (that sounds a bit like Mr Dyer’s advice in the notorious Zoo column doesn’t it?).

5 out of 10 – An distinctly average movie, yet this is the second best Danny Dyer movie in years (so take that as faint praise if you like.) Predictable, well-acted, badly plotted, slightly classier low-budget actioner than the average.

Review by Matt ‘The Shusher’ Usher below



One thought on “ASSASSIN (2015)

  1. ASSASSIN – review by Matt ‘The Shusher’ Usher

    Oh those crazy local councillors with their endless prostitute-based shenanigans, corruption, and penchants for messing about with plastic bags! Will they never learn? That’s the moral of this angry film about the disruption of due procedure and the perils of allowing the market to intervene in the democratic process. Or maybe the moral is: don’t fall in love with anyone whose father you’ve just murdered for cash. Or maybe it’s just the old adage: never mix business and pleasure.

    This week Danny Dyer is able to feed his starving family thanks to ASSASSIN, in which he plays an ASSASSIN who’s not very good at his job, possibly because he’s called Jamie. (Discuss: do real-life assassins use normal names or do they choose names that are cool?) Jamie’s job is to kill a corrupt council official who used to take bribes from the Alberts brothers (Martin and Gary Kemp excellently and convincingly playing brothers) who are old-school lovable rogues and murderers but have now gone legit and want to build a moderate-sized casino, but the council official has annoyed them by taking bribes from someone who wants to build a really big casino instead. Jamie does his job with all the casual efficiency of the modern-day movie ASSASSIN (but we know he’s a nice guy ‘cos he doesn’t kill the conveniently foreign prostitute who was entertaining the victim and he even gives her some money to go home) but then he makes a fatal error: he hops into bed with the corrupt council official’s drug-addicted stripper daughter. Alas this council official was officially a bad dad and so (fortunately for Dyer) his daughter shows barely a trickle of emotion over his brutal suffocation. Dyer also betrays no whisker of emotion, so his girlfriend never sees his reaction when he works out just what a pickle he’s in. Nor do we. This film is so inept she never even realises that her boyfriend killed her dad. Still, he was a bad dad, so she’s not too upset and concentrates instead on solving the murder. With the help of a drug-addicted stripper best friend she quickly works out that Spandau Ballet are the culprits as they’re pretty much the only other people in the film. Instead of doing his job properly (i.e. killing the stripping daughter) Jamie falls in love with her and helps her move to a house in an unknown town so that the Alberts will never find her (which leads to Jamie coming up with a clever lie when Danny Dyer tells the Kemps that he ‘drowned her in the river’ which is the sort of line you just shouldn’t give to Danny Dyer), then visits her a lot and is then surprised when the Alberts’ regiment of burly bad guys turn up on the doorstep. Fortunately he scares them off by (a) shooting one of them in the head so that he dies instantaneously and (b) shooting the other one in the back four or five times which makes the baddie run away like a cartoon character with a bottom full of drawing pins. Having successfully evaded the Alberts, Jamie and his beloved move to Brighton, but then disaster strikes! Blissfully happy running a rubber-duck-catching stall in Brighton (alas Dyer does NOT have the line ‘I run a rubber duck stall at the Brighton pier fairground’), he returns home to hear his lady love utter her own death sentence: ‘I’m pregnant’. After that Jamie puts away his duck-catching rod and it’s vengeance all the way, but in the usual detached, methodical way that seems to attract film-makers.

    ASSASSIN is a distinctly average film, even in the context of bad British films, even in the context of the Danny Dyer oeuvre. It is also the second time Dyer has been directed by J K Amalou. Their previous collaboration DEVIATION (in which Dyer kidnapped a woman then spent twelve hours driving around London buying her sweets) was described (by me) as ‘not the worst Danny Dyer film I’ve seen’, and ‘pretty poor’ but ‘not all bad’ (sorry, I thought I wrote better than that). ASSASSIN represents a giant leap forward, but there are few signs that Amalou-Dyer is going to be one of those partnerships like Scorsese-de Niro or Siegel-Eastwood. (Actually there’s no chance of that – I just wanted to put all those names together to make readers wince. Mind you, Winner-Bronson? Maybe.)

    Most of the actors acquit themselves reasonably enough, given that most of them are playing time-honoured stereotypes devoid of originality or inspiration. Most of them end up dead, but none of them make much impression. Martin Kemp looks like he’s about to burst out laughing at any moment. Gary Kemp looks like he’s about to die at any moment. Holly Weston has the difficult job of playing a potentially complex character (difficult relationship with father, falls for his killer, drug problem etc) but who actually gets to do nothing more than moan about being stuck in a safe-house. Unsurprisingly she fails. Meanwhile Anouska Mond suffers prettily and Robert Cavanah (as the corrupt hedonistic pervert council official) leaves the film without even uttering any dialogue. But this is a film all about Danny. In VENDETTA he played a man driven to extreme action by extreme circumstances (he goes on a violent rampage after Fallon from Dynasty is horribly burned to death). Here he plays a professional man of violence, immune to all that waste and horror. But Dyer just seems ever so slightly amused by everything. Is that Jamie’s disdain for the petty doings of those around him? Or has Dyer just seen how much Eastenders is going to pay him? Occasionally he looks like he’s fallen asleep (he really should keep his eyes open). But at no point does he succeed in persuading us that he will do anything other than the right thing. The film tries hard to make things ambiguous, but generally fails (except with the bit with the seagull – that was ambiguous and arty and confusing and almost French).

    Many years ago a French film called LE SAMOURAI was re-released with much fanfare and critics glorying in its existentialism. It was rubbish – the hitman was just really bad at his job. ASSASSIN has a similar feel: for a start bargain-basement killer Jamie only charges £20,000 per murder, including expenses (I think), which seems a bit cheap. And he has a habit of wandering around with his helmet on even when not doing assassin-y things, thus looking extremely conspicuous. And sometimes the colour of the helmet changes (though I’m sure that’s to do with lighting – I can’t believe they went to the expense of buying two helmets). And the whole having-sex-with-your-victim’s-daughter is surely something that must be prohibited on page 1 of the Assassins’ Handbook. And his hitman modus operandi is a little odd – having committed a murder he goes and sees a mechanic who (I think) destroys his clothes. Jamie / Dyer then puts on identical clothing in order to go about his everyday business.

    These quibbles aside, VENDETTA passes the time adequately enough for what it is. The pace could be quicker, and it would have been nice if there was ever a sense of threat or danger lurking. But this is the sort of film where Danny will sort it out, and so he does. All in all it’s a kind of bloodless revenge romp where everyone goes through the motions and no-one cares about anything. ASSASSIN is the sort of film that robots will one day make. It’s considerably better than Dyer’s last cinematic outing BLOOD SHOT. But it’s nowhere near VENDETTA, his best film in recent years. If these references are of any help to you then (a) I’m glad to be of service and (b) you are an incurable Danny-fan.

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