20th May2020

‘Assassin 33 A.D.’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Donny Boaz, Morgan Roberts, Isla Levine, Lamar Usher, Gerardo Davila, Jason Castro, Heidi Montag | Written and Directed by Jim Carroll

Written and directed by Jim Carroll, Assassin 33 A.D. takes the basic tenets of the faith film genre (i.e. Christian values) and shoves them into a schlocky, overly violent time travel plot. The result is deeply misguided and comfortably one of the worst films ever made.

After a prologue in which security guard Brandt (Donny Boaz) loses his faith after the death of his wife (a cameoing, atrociously accented Heidi Montag) and daughters in a car crash, the plot centres on a group of science geniuses – including straight-laced team leader Ram Goldstein (Morgan Roberts) and his devoutly Christian colleague-slash-girlfriend Amy (Ilsa Devine) – who accidentally invent time travel while trying to create a matter transporter.

Their joy in their discovery is short-lived, however, because their wealthy boss Ahmed (Gerardo Davila) is secretly a Muslim terrorist who wants to destroy Christianity by travelling back in time and killing Jesus. And because he blames God for killing his family, Brandt (Ahmed’s head of security) is only too happy to do the deed himself.

Assassin 33 A.D. is so utterly appalling that it’s difficult to know where to begin. For a supposed faith film, it’s remarkably tasteless and offensive – it’s hard to think of another Christian-backed movie that would have Jesus actually getting gunned down, time travel or no time travel. It’s also shockingly racist – Ahmed and his minions positively foam at the mouth at the thought that they can rid the earth of “Christian scum” and the film seems to think they can excuse that naked Islamophobia by adding a line about the terrorists belonging to “an extremist group”.

Plot-wise, Assassin 33 A.D. is all over the place, with headache-inducing multiple timelines and wildly inconsistent plot points, e.g. Ahmed’s plan to destroy Christianity varies from scene to scene – sometimes he wants to prove that Jesus did not rise from the dead and sometimes he just wants to kill him. On a similar note, you’d think a faith film would have a better grasp of the differences between Jesus and God, but to the characters here – even the believers – the two seem interchangeable.

As a director, Carroll’s control of the film’s tone is…how can we put this charitably…entirely absent. Some scenes (like Ahmed trying to coax the secret of time travel from Ram by murdering his parents in front of him) are nasty in a ridiculously over-the-top way, while others seem to be going for gentle comedy, such as the sequence where good guy Simon (Lamar Usher) meets Jesus (Jason Castro) in the Garden of Gethsemane and they have a chat about how Simon bootlegged Jesus’ movie and didn’t watch it to the end.

Sadly, Assassin 33 A.D.‘s woes don’t end there. The acting is risible, the dialogue is dreadful (there’s a LOT of nonsense exposition) and the effects are cheap without being cheerful. Even the film’s central message is woefully confused to say the least – something about forgiveness, maybe?

In fairness, Assassin 33 A.D. does veer dangerously close to so-bad-its-good territory at times (the sequel-proposing mid-credits sting, at least, will have you laughing out loud), but that should in no way be taken as a recommendation. Maybe there’s a timeline where this is heralded as a cult camp classic? Let’s just hope it’s not this one.

* 1/5

Assassin 33 A.D. is available to rent on Amazon Instant Video now.

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