Stars: Johnny Messner, Vinnie Jones, Estella Warren, James Remar, Michael Paré, Richard Burgi, Matt Cinquanta, Rachel Laurenne, Ardeshir Radpour, Michael J Long, Paulina Vallin | Written by Sean Ryan | Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr.
Assassination, aka Decommissioned sees CIA agent John Niles (Messner) set up to be the patsy in the assassination of the President of the United States after the President (Burgi) announces plans to decomission (hence the films original title) a special taskforce within the US government which spies on its own citizens, citing that it is against the US constitution. However those involved with the taskforce, dubbed BT85, have other ideas…
Ok, let’s lay our cards on the table. I’m a big fan of Johnny Messner, I have been since his starring role in the 2005 cop show Killer Instinct (a show that was, and still is, criminally underrated). Since then Messner has been working steadily in the DTV market with a number of roles in action movies and crime thrillers of varying quality – though 2013′s Kill ‘Em All was a particular highlight and should be on the radar of ANY action flick fan.
But it’s not just Messner whosse the attraction here, director Timothy Woodward Jr. has packed his film with a number of recognisable names and faces. And that seems to be his modus operandi when it comes to filmmaking. He’s carved out a niche for himself within the direct-to-market action genre; working with the same group of actors including, as with this film, Michael Pare, Johnny Messner and Vinnie Jones; whilst adding familiar “guest stars”, in this case James Remar as Marino, the CIA agent tasked with framing Niles and later, trying to kill him.
As such, you can’t say that director Timothy Woodward Jr. isn’t anything but prolific. With 10 directorial credits to his name, five within the past year alone, he’s managed to produce some decent action films – mainly by sticking to well-worn cliches an familair genre tropes. And this film is no different… Assassination is, at its core, Shooter meets Taken – on the one hand we have someone framed for an assassination a la Shooter; on the other the hero’s family is kidnapped and he vows to do anything in his power to get them back (and even riffs on THAT famous phone scene!). Yet whilst it aims to utilise those familiar story beats and characters, it does so without any panache or visual flair – which I’m guessing ultimately comes down to budget and experience.
For even though Woodward Jr. already has ten films to his name, he’s only been behind the camera since 2013. Though to his credit, he has improved with each and every production. A few more years and some bigger budgets and he could be helming the next great DTV action movie… Admittedly Assassination isn’t going to set the world alight but if you’re a DTV movie fan and/or an action movie fan, you’ll find something worthwhile here.
Assassination, aka Decommissioned, is released by High Fliers in May.