I popped on Assassination this 4th of July weekend just randomly. I really didn’t know what it was about and it ended up being fairly fitting for the holiday weekend. While it’s not about Independence Day, Charles Bronson does stars as a Secret Service agent named Killian (yes, KILLIAN!) who just returned from leave and his first assignment back is to watch over the First Lady, Lara Craig (Jill Ireland). As you can imagine Killian isn’t too thrilled by this. He has a bit of seniority and expects to be on the Presidential watch, but hey, he has to work his way back up after being out a while.
Killian’s return from leave coincides with the inauguration of a new President, the man following Reagan, so at this point Killian has never met the First Lady. He hears stories though and ain’t none of them good. A running joke throughout the film is about how everyone misses Nancy, which is humorous because Nancy Reagan was a monster.
When Killian finally meets the Lara, he learns all the stories are true as she’s very sassy and doesn’t want anyone watching over here or telling her what to do. Their first public outing together is in a parade and the First Lady wants to ride in a convertible. Killian attempts to stop her with a reminder that they haven’t used convertibles since the Kennedy assassination. She’s having none of it though and chooses not to only ride in a convertible, but sit up on the backseat fully exposing herself. And what do you know, they get a scare as an explosion happens next to their car. Killian reacts by knocking Lara down from her perch causing her to get a black eye. Turns out it was just a motorcycle that crashed, or was it?
After a few similar “accidents” it becomes clear that someone is out to get the First Lady, but why and who? In effort to do all he can to protect her, Killian learns that the Lara’s marriage to the President is a bit of sham. They like each other just fine, but they’re not in love and just got married to further his political career. Fearing that Lara may leave him and knowing that there’s no way a divorced man will get re-elected, perhaps it is the President with the hit out on his wife? Surely a widower would be a shoo-in for re-election. Either way, Killian is on the case!
Overall Assassination is similar to a lot of Bronson films, but that’s not a bad thing at all. There’s plenty of action, plenty of one-liners and ladies throwing themselves at Bronson, as they should be. The plot does have a few interesting twists and turns, but that’s all secondary to seeing Bronson blow things up while getting googly-eyed with Ireland. This is actually one of the more charming roles for Bronson. He’s a tough guy still, but there is a bit more softness to him which is a rare treat.
Bronson and Ireland were married at this time so they do have a natural chemistry that comes across, however, they’re not really love interests in the film. They flirt for sure, but Bronson’s Killian is actually in a “relationship” with another secret service agent, Charlie Chong, played by Jan Gan Boyd. I use the term relationship very loosely because while the two sleep together it is more about Chong fawning over Killian. One morning after the two have slept together at Chong’s place she asks him why he doesn’t just move in with her already. His response, “I don’t want to die from a terminal orgasm.” Bronson, you did it again!
As far as the action goes, there’s a lot of it and a truly amazing scene involving a dirt bike. At one point the secret service is taking the First Lady out to a secluded area for protection. For some reason they are towing an enclosed trailer. I could not figure out why they had this trailer, but then they get attacked and that’s when Killian opens the trailer and hops on a dirt bike. At this point he’s fully armed with guns and a rocket launcher and heads out on the dirt bike to chase the baddies down. At one point he even jumps over a fence into a field on the bike, a solid reference to The Great Escape. At this point Killian is chasing one man that rides into a barn and what does he do? Blows the entire barn up with a rocker launcher of course because that’s the only way to properly take down one man. Awesome.
Assassination is now out on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and it’s a pretty standard Kino Lorber Blu-ray. The picture looks solid, never great, but always very good. If I had to guess the source material available for Assassination isn’t the best, but Kino Lorber does a nice job with what is there. The opening titles credits are bit rough, the picture looks a little faded and there are a ton of scratches, but that clears up once the film actually begins. This is likely the best version of Assassination we’ll ever see and that’s more than acceptable. Just having a film like this on Blu-ray is a win. As far as special features go there are just some trailers – one for Assassination and then a few others for Bronson films also released by Kino Lorber. I do recommend that you do not watch the Assassination trailer before watching the film because it contains some spoilers.
If you like Charles Bronson and Charles Bronson films, you’ll very likely enjoy Assassination. It hits all the marks you’d like, plus throws in a few interesting and different tidbits along the way. The story is a good one but unfortunately is relegated to being more of an after thought. Had the story been more of the focus this could have been a great movie, instead it settles nicely into being a good movie that’s a ton of fun.
Assassination is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.