I impulsively summarized True Memoirs of an International Assassin on Twitter by typing, “really wish True Memoirs of an International Assassin used its strengths to subvert the action genre. Still not bad, just indistinguishable”.
139 characters had summed up my feelings towards Kevin James’ latest movie – I wish I could’ve just left it at that. However, as a critic, I realize expansion is expected and appreciated. Plus, I also think it would be fair to director/co-writer Jeff Wadlow to know why I felt so much indifference towards his “fish out of water” action flick.
Kevin James plays Sam Larson, an aspiring novelist who frequently struggles from writer’s block. The audience literally – and cleverly – experiences the struggle every time Sam works out an alternate catchphrase or heroic escape. While writing his debut action yarn, Sam receives inspiration from a local barfly whose “work history” involves top secret intel. When the book is published through an online deal, the writing hits too close to home for some who think Sam is the experienced hired killer they’ve heard so much about.
True Memoirs of an International Assassin passes up opportunities to call out the action genre. Being that Sam is a writer who hasn’t completely sold out to what consumers want, he still has investment rooted in reality. It would’ve been refreshing to see James commenting on how closely the danger he’s thrusted into really does resemble off-the-shelf schlock he’s read in books.
The problem is filmmaker Jeff Wadlow can’t laugh at himself. This is a similar criticism some had about his previous flick, Kick-Ass 2. I was a defender of the sequel, but only because I viewed it as an exciting action movie with returning characters I liked. I can understand why some would’ve been disappointed if they were expecting the same satire the predecessor dished out.
True Memoirs of an International Assassin, however, has Wadlow starting fresh with original characters in situations he co-wrote with Jeff Morris (Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever). This was his chance to spin some of his own satire, but he declines. Instead, like Kick-Ass 2, this film is just an action movie; only this time Wadlow isn’t starting with an interesting base. If a filmmaker is going to make something basic, they better have interesting components to build with.
Aside from some well-choreographed fights and a couple of performances from actors trying to soup up the material (Kim Coates, Kelen Coleman), True Memoies of an International Assassin is, well, indistinguishable.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie