Saturday, April 23, 2016

Assassination (1987)

ASSASSINATION was one of the last Cannon films to receive a wide theatrical release of over 1000 screens. Still, the studio knew enough to release this stinker in January, when it opened in sixth place. Written by THE WHITE BUFFALO’s Richard Sale and directed by DEATH HUNT’s Peter R. Hunt, the film is a ripoff of Clint Eastwood’s THE GAUNTLET, even to the point of hiring a real-life couple to play the leads.

In the worst of Charles Bronson’s Cannon films, Charlie plays Jay Killion, a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the new First Lady, Lara Craig (Jill Ireland using her natural British accent), a frosty snob who takes an immediate dislike to “Killy” for no discernible reason except the story demands it. This mismatched couple find themselves on the run from killers who want to prevent her from spilling the beans about the President’s impotence! In one listlessly directed action scene after another, Bronson’s and Ireland’s stunt doubles pile into trains, cars, motorcycles, boats, and dune buggies. Can they discover the mole in the White House...if they don’t kill each other first?!

One bright spot is actress Jan Gan Boyd (STEELE JUSTICE), who manages to shine, despite being saddled with an unflattering wardrobe, a silly name (“Charlie Chang”), and sexual banter with the much-older Bronson as ill-fitting as co-star Michael Ansara’s toupee. As usual, Ireland — from all accounts, a classy lady — delivers an amateurish, shrill performance, and having her on the set doesn’t seem to have done much for her husband, who seems disinterested (not that one can blame him). Valentine McCallum (the couple’s son) and Robert O. Ragland receive credit for the score, but some of it is Jay Chattaway’s from INVASION U.S.A.

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