Assassins Tale starts out seemingly like any ordinary hit man movie. We see a violent act take place, a couple of tough guys talking business, the usual. Then things seem to get more interesting when we’re introduced to a character called Johnny Solo (Gary Poux) who’s talking to a reporter about secret details involving a network of contract killers and other valuable information involving a mobsters illegitimate son.
I always love a good hit man/crime story, and this movie also got me going with its sleek style composed of stylish transitions and silky smooth music that gave the film a real cool vibe. However, those stylistic attributes also soon became a crutch for the film at some points by focusing attention on style over substance, with some scenes almost pointless in dialog, only to be quickly cut to a montage of that smooth R&B music and more hip transitions.
Willing to let some overuse of those style elements slide, I focused more on the story. The story was intriguing, when I could follow it. I found myself having a hard time keeping up as it moves at a fairly quick pace. Lots of characters are introduced from the beginning, through both Solo’s narration and in the events taking place. Three main contract killers are introduced: Grace (Anna Silk), Roman (Michael Beach), and Anthony (Guy Garner). The main gist of the story is that the trio is hired to take out the mob boss’ son. Sounds simple enough, but Solo and his boss are also after the son (and photos of him), there are also some fellas from New York involved, and a surfer dude named Woody (Kaiwi Lyman) orchestrating all sorts of hits for all of the different players. Oh, and parallel to all of this we know from the beginning that Solo has some sort of scheme related to the reporter he is talking to.
This movie obviously had a ton of ambition. The abundance of colorful characters, each with their own distinct characteristics and backgrounds, the different plot twists and turns and how everything played out were all things I appreciated with this film. However, I just couldn’t help feeling that I didn’t know where to focus most of the time. I wasn’t drawn to any particular character. At the beginning, it seemed like Solo was the ‘hero’ of sorts, his emotions and mannerisms with the reporter would suggest he was doing something noble that gave a lot of mystery from the get-go. But by the end of the film, well let’s just say I didn’t have that feeling anymore. That could have very well been the intention, but that just illustrates the different directions this film goes in. Our three killers, each of which being very interesting and having deeper stories of their own, had possibly the most meaningful portion of the story, but a lot of it gets kind of overshadowed by the intertwining mob-doublecross stuff. Even so, they do provide the best scenes in the film and honestly I could have watched a film with a story solely around them without the extra surrounding plots.
The filmmakers were definitely inspired to do something different with the hit man movie, and it certainly shows. A lot of the writing is a least trying to stray from being plain and generic (I sensed some Tarantino-esque drawn out dialog scenes here and there), and the fairly unique story was ambitious. However I just felt that there was a little too much going on at times which made it hard to strongly feel for specific characters or aspects of the story. By the time the ending came around with some of the surprise revelations, I didn’t have a very strong reaction due to that lack of feeling or connection, it was almost as if some things were thrown in just to have that surprise element and no other reason. From the beginning I really wanted to love this movie. I ended up really enjoying it, but just feeling like I was missing something. Assassins Tale was still ultimately an entertaining hit man flick that did some unconventional things, had a few memorable scenes and some funny moments as well.
DVD cover side note: we’re yet again victim of some bad choice in cover art for the DVD here. The film contains no explosions or fires, and I don’t recall seeing any women in skin tight clothes wielding a sword (and even if there was, that was not the feeling this film had or was going for).