It turns out writer-director J.K. Amalou and actor Danny Dyer share a keen interest in very bad London-based thrillers, which they’re very adept at making. Ryan Pollard sits through Assassin so you don’t have to…
The latest British crime/gangster to star the “infamous” Danny Dyer, Assassin, is about a quiet, no-nonsense hitman for hire named Jamie (frankly he should’ve been called “Mumbles”) who ends up breaking the rules of his profession and falls for a beautiful young stripper (Hollyoaks’ Holly Weston). After discovering that the notorious gangland brothers (Spandau Ballet’s Martin & Gary Kemp) had hired him to kill her father, his world starts to slowly fall apart around him and he must turn against his criminal employers and their gang in order to save the woman he loves.
Danny himself has frankly been “dyer” throughout his career (with the exception of Human Traffic), having starred in numerous stinkers from the hateful Pimp to the unfunny Run For Your Wife. He then infamously torched his career a while ago when he, in an article from Zoo Magazine that was attributed to him, advised the readers to cut their ex-girlfriends’ faces in what he considers to be his idea of a practical joke. Ever since then he pretty much spent the rest of his time having a go at journalists, even going as far as to break their noses, for causing the demise of his so-called “big screen career”. This makes it harder for me to take his serious hardman act seriously, and in this, not only is he spectacularly miscast, he looks as though he’s sleepwalking his way through the entirety of the film’s running time.
The Kemp brothers have good chemistry with each other and both are watchable and engaging screen presences, but their talents are ultimately wasted in this film, and frankly, they’re much better off somewhere else. Holly Weston, who apparently has been praised heavily for her role in Hollyoaks, is decently watchable, but she looks as though she’s desperate to be in another movie, and her “romantic” chemistry with Dyer is lacking any real passion or romance. Why would she even be interested in him in the first place?
There are other problems to be had: the script is completely witless with a lot of the plot devices and ideas being clearly old-hat and done much better before in other movies, and its sexual politics are woefully toxic and all over the place with the women characters being sketchily portrayed at best. It even has the age-old problem with having a leeringly male gaze with just female nudity on full display. Plus, the continuity and editing on this movie is atrocious to say the least.
However, the film is well-shot by Haider Zafar, and he gives the film a stylish, glossy sheen, which belies its very tight budget, but this perfectly explains the film’s core problem: all surface but no brain or heart. It’s of no surprise that Assassin has ended going straight to DVD/blu-ray, and there’s no doubting that this is where it’ll make money and possibly find some sort of audience. Personally, I didn’t like it at all, and I still find a residual problem of taking Dyer’s hardman schtick seriously in any way possible. Let’s just hope that his tenure on Eastenders is a very long one indeed.