True Memoirs of an International Assassin full movie review - A Step Up For Kevin James but the Movie Can't Get Out of Its Own Way
It's hard to watch this movie and not compare it to The Ridiculous 6 or The Do-Over. We all know that Adam Sandler signed that 6 picture deal with Netflix and has been cranking them out to mixed results.
The Ridiculous 6 was awful and The Do-Over was okay. Now we have True Memoirs of an International Assassin with Kevin James who I don't completely hate. The best Kevin James performance for me is when he stole the show in Hitch with Will Smith. The trailer for this looked a little stupid but I figured I'd check it out anyway. Most of the way through the movie I was pretty surprised but much like The Do-Over when the movie gets to the end, the grade starts diving.
*Minor Spoilers Ahead* Sam Larson (Kevin James) is trying to finish up his book True Memoirs of an International Assassin. It's about a soldier of fortune Mason Carver, completing missions all over the globe. He's not a full-time writer, he pounds the pavement at his day job and this is how he fills his spare time. To his credit, he does do the research and he gets stories from a former analyst that's a buddy of his Amos (Ron Rifkin). Sam rips off some of his stories from Amos, including the ending of his book where Mason survives a helicopter crash and becomes "The Ghost." Sam tries to get his book published to no avail until he gets it published digitally by Kylie Applebaum (Kelen Coleman). She tricks him however, claiming it's a non-fiction book when it clearly is fiction. The book takes off and Sam falls all over himself trying to fix the situation, including bungling an interview with Katie Couric. He suddenly is kidnapped and brought to Venezuela by El Toro (Andy Garcia) who believes he is truly the agent named The Ghost and wants to hire him to kill the president.
The premise for True Memoirs of an International Assassin is like a B movie version of True Lies. I'm not criticizing it for that, you could find a way to put a spin on that to make it fresh. The biggest change is that you have Kevin James in the Arnold Schwarzenegger spot. The best thing that this movie did was it had a lot of self-aware humour about how ridiculous the plot was and how ridiculous Sam Larson being a hit-man is. Even though this is a comedy, I was expecting this movie to be completely serious about the case of mistaken identity and it wasn't which was for the best. I didn't find the movie very funny but they did manage to have some fun with this premise and I enjoyed that.
So the movie did have a fun premise despite the fact that it's completely unrealistic. That's fine, a movie can operate on that level, most action movies do. True Memoirs of an International Assassin also has a cast that's pretty committed. I thought Zulay Henao did a pretty good job. She managed to sell herself as a government agent and she's even funny in a dry sort of way. Andy Garcia and Maurice Compte also did solid work. For being 2 serious actors, they didn't phone it in and seemed to be willing to work with the tone of the movie which was commendable. Andrew Howard is playing another typical villain but much like Limitless, he does seem to have a certain charisma being the bad guy. Getting to Kevin James, I didn't think he was bad, he was just miscast. The funny thing is that the solution on who else to cast is pretty obvious. They have Ron Riggle right there, he's funny and he actually has the chops to pull off being an action hero. So I'm not going to rip on Kevin, I just thought he wasn't the right guy for this part.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I was actually with this movie for most of it and I was pleasantly surprised. A couple of things dragged it down. The first is that the action scenes weren't edited together very well. It's pretty easy to see when they switch in the stunt doubles and when we've had such a good year for action movies, this didn't measure up. Secondly, the foreshadowing in this movie is like being beaten over the head. So many times they repeat the same dialogue from Sam's book, not different bits, the same lines over and over let alone what happens in the climax with the helicopter crash. Lastly, while the whole movie isn't plausible, the ending strained it so badly I gave up. Certain characters show up to save the day when there's no way of knowing where the heroes would be.
I'm finding it kind of hard to rate this movie. I liked this better than the Do-Over by a decent amount and I gave that a 4/10. Kevin James is pretty restrained, the supporting cast is good for the most part and they have a story that isn't new but it is done in a way to make it different. But for an action movie, the action is sub par and although the movie is funny in some parts in a dry sort of way, there aren't a ton of laughs. I'd probably grade this out a 6 if the ending hadn't been so bad but I'll give it a 5. Check this out before the Do-Over or the Ridiculous 6.