DVD Review: The Assassination

You would be forgiven for thinking that upcoming DVD release, The Assassination starring Bruce Willis is an all-out action spectacular - just look at the cover. However, when you hear the full title of the film (originally released in the US in 2008) - Assassination of a High School President, you get a better idea of what to expect.  Brett Simon's feature is a likable hybrid of high-school comedy and amusing noir.

Set in a Catholic high school, The Assassination follows an ambitious young student reporter (Reece Daniel Thompson) as he tries to discover who has stolen SAT papers from the Principal's (Bruce Willis) office. To do this, he teams up with the typical popular girl (Misca Barton) and unearths a wider conspiracy.

The Assassination's fusion of the high school set comedy with classic noir makes for an original and refreshing combination - I can only recall one other instance of these two genres meeting in 2005's Brick. However, Simon's feature remains a light-hearted and pleasant watch - packed with small laughs, many of which subvert and play with traditional high-school cliches, hierarchies and roles. This can be seen through the characters of the plucky young reporter, the militaristic school principal, and my personal favourite the camp Spanish teacher who insists the pupils only speak "en espanol".

As much as there are a few engaging action and comic set pieces (most notably the 'assassination sequence' handled in subversive fashion, making it more appropriate to the setting of a high school) Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski's narrative has a tendency to drift at a meandering pace. Most of the The Assasination centres on Thompson's young reporter interviewing potential subjects and simply moving onto the next clue. Fortunately, clocking in at under ninety minutes the occasional  lapses in pace are not hugely upsetting.

Solid performances also bring a sense of energy and dynamism to The Assassination. Daniel Reece Thompson makes a likeable lead - capturing the youthful bright-eyed vigour and ambition of the plucky young journalist. The actor showcases an underplayed comic streak in his dealings with various obnoxious and slow-witted classmates. However, it is Bruce Willis who steals the show here - the actor dominates the screen as Principal Kirkpatrick, the authoritarian leader of St. Donovan's High with a sheer disdain towards gum.

The Assassination is a fresh and likable watch with a pleasant mix of humour and set-pieces on display. Strong performances from Thompson and Willis will maintain viewer interest when the narrative's pace begins to dip.

The Assassination is available to buy from Monday the 15th of July.


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