Wifes and children of the Mormon Orville Beecham become victims of a massacre in his own house. The police believes the crime had a religious motive. Orville doesn't give any comment on the... See full summary »
J. Lee Thompson
Trish Van Devere,
Jay Killian (Charles Bronson) had been the presidential bodyguard, but for the inauguration of the recently elected president, he is assigned to the first lady, Lara Royce (Jill Ireland). Lara, a perpetually indignant, arrogantly feministic lady, initially hates the methodical and rules-following Killian, and so she does all she can to avoid him and disregard his safety procedures. The story complicates, however, when repeated attempts are made on Lara's life. Eventually, the shaken Lara decides to trust Killian's instincts and precautionary methods, and the pair embark on a difficult and often perilous cross-country journey, with the assassins close on their heels. Written by
Michel Rudoy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The code name for First Lady Lara Royce Craig, played by Jill Ireland, was "One Momma" or "Momma One". See more »
Lara boasts to Killian that she's vacationing in secret by carrying $25,000 in travelers checks under her maiden name. Lara's family is rich and famous. She could and should have gotten totally untraceable cash because the maiden name of the First Lady is not exactly a secret. See more »
It's been fun on the merry-go-round, but I'm running out of tickets, Ma'am.
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This was the next to last film appearance by Jill Ireland, who died of cancer in 1990 after four decades as a well-known actress and producer. Ireland made quite a few waves in the press when she dropped her then-husband David McCallum in 1967, beginning her long relationship with Charles Bronson. It is a great irony that Bronson, probably the all-time leader in number of deaths rendered on-screen, had one of the most enduring marriages in film history.
'Assassination' seems to be a movie that was tucked into Cannon's production schedule for the sake of Bronson and Ireland. Ireland was already suffering from cancer-related illnesses in 1987 and you can almost picture the two actors wanting to do 'just one more, for old times' sake.' 'Assassination' is carelessly done as a whole, showing the lack of polish and dwindling funds that would tank Cannon by 1990. But there's a kind of nostalgia value in seeing the couple together one last time and the film makes you wonder what exactly helps a relationship to survive in the chaos that is Hollywood.
Bronson plays Jay Killian, a high-ranking Secret Service agent who is assigned to protect the First Lady, Lara Craig (Ireland). The President's wife has a reputation for being difficult, bossing Service agents around and wanting to do things her own way. That all changes, however, when attempts are made on her life and she must journey with Killian by car, train, motorbike, and believe it or not, dune buggy to escape would-be assassins. There is little surprise here, as Killian believes the murderers are part of an inside job, perhaps arranged by the President himself. On the way, Killian and Mrs. Craig develop an unspoken affection for one another in scenes between Bronson and Ireland that are actually very funny.
What really gets me is how this film was promoted upon its release and how it's still made to look as a DVD. The original trailer gives you the feeling that 'Assassination' is another cold-hearted Bronson shoot-'em-up. But a lot of this movie - which was rated PG-13, by the way - is in a comic vein, putting it along the lines of a romantic thriller like Bronson and Ireland's western 'From Noon Till Three.' Even the DVD case shows Bronson with a rocket launcher, ready to blow things up. Which he does, but to a lesser degree than his other '80s potboilers.
On the whole, 'Assassination' is late Cannon slop work and doesn't really know what kind of film it wants to be. Besides drifting from actioner to romantic thriller and back again, there are serious mistakes in continuity, property values are bottom-of-the-barrel cheap, and the effects are dreadful; many of the explosions seem like matte work rather than being done on location. Robert Ragland, who had shown good composing skills in earlier films, teamed up with Valentine McCallum on a score that is mostly synthesized and better fit for television.
Richard Sale's script has real lulus of dialogue, with the conversations between Bronson and Ireland the only bright spot. There is no explanation as to why the First Lady is called 'One Momma' all of a sudden, nor as to why Ireland is left with her British accent when the character is a Wyoming native. Jan Gan Boyd, playing Killian's main assistant, has a kitten-like personality and is badly miscast as a federal agent. Stephen Elliott (a former Tony Award nominee who died in May 2005), Randy Brooks, Erik Stern (as assassin Bracken), and Michael Ansara (Senator Bunsen) are acceptable in their supporting roles.
Incidentally, this was the last film directing gig for Peter Hunt, who broke onto the scene with 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' in 1969 and collaborated with Bronson and Lee Marvin on 'Death Hunt' in 1981. 'Assassination' is available on DVD through MGM Home Entertainment; it is presented in dual widescreen and standard format with three-language subtitles and theatrical trailer.
** out of 4
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