I’m actively rooting for Henry Golding’s success. No really, I am! Ever since he broke into mainstream success in Crazy Rich Asians, he’s been “just one” movie away from mega-stardom. He almost had the chance in Snake Eyes and has been rumored to be the next James Bond just as much as Idris Elba has as of late. So, understand this review isn’t a knock against him as he still does have the “it factor,” even in a movie so confusingly off as Assassin Club, which unfortunately doesn’t have as strong a script for Golding to continue his climb into stardom. And Assassin Club does have a strong supporting cast including Daniela Melchior, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Noomi Rapace, and Sam Neil, but it has difficulties regarding script, editing, and (sometimes) action and fight choreography.
Morgan Gaines (Golding) is a former Royal Marine, who has dipped towards the Dark Side and is now involved in the world of contract killing. Working with his former mentor Caldwell (Neil), he now takes out the garbage as a well-paid assassin. However, everything changes when he’s drawn into a high-stakes contract. Head over heels with his girlfriend Sophie (Daniela Melchior), Gaines is ready to leave this life, but is tasked by Caldwell for “one last assignment” that handsomely pays for his retirement. He’s been hired to take out a target, except this target is also a highly skilled assassin. Then, this one contract turns into the task of taking out six other assassins… and they all have contracts out on each other! But why are all these assassins pitted against each other? So begins a mystery of who is putting these assassins against each other, and why as Gains unfolds the mystery.
Unfortunately, Assassin Club starts off kind of giving the plot away when the film opens seven years ago with an assassination that puts everything in motion, and is fairly predictable as to why the plot is in motion as a revenge quest from the beginning of the movie and relegates the next hour and fifty-one minutes to be rather mute, especially when the big reveal comes, you pretty much knew the twist at minute two of Assassin Club.
Assassin Club might have worked better if we already didn’t have a damn-near-perfect cinematic universe of a secret society of assassins in the John Wick franchise that simply executes the fantastical (and more realistic) action in a better manner than Assassin Club did. They even try to replicate the “falling two stories onto a car and walking away without a scratch” cliché, but unfortunately, director Camille Delamarre’s direction doesn’t match up. The assassins even leave a calling card of taking the fingers off of their targets as proof of the killing, so there’s an established set of rules within the film. While John Wick completely embraces the ridiculousness of its premise, Assassin Club tries to have one foot in the real world and one foot out and suffers for it.
Now that doesn’t mean Assassin Club completely botches its execution. It does have some interesting action set pieces that are engaging enough to give you your fix for shoot ‘em up and fun fight choreography and Golding is trying his hardest to sell the movie as best he can. There are a few moments that leave you wanting more and almost yelling at the movie “Do more of that,” but then it does the opposite, leaving the audience certainly frustrated.
With a stronger script (or as a limited streaming series giving the story more room to breathe), Assassin Club might have worked better. After all, the cast is an interesting one full of great actors, and some of the action works rather well. There’s just “something” missing from the film that doesn’t allow it to live up to its premise and full potential. Once again, Henry Golding is destined for Hollywood greatness, just not in this movie.
Assassin Club is currently available on VOD and will be available on Blu-Ray on June 6, 2023.