Assassination (1987)

Ah Cannon Films, how I’m glad to be back in your warm embrace.

And what’s this?  It’s a Charles Bronson picture this time?  Oh boy.  I’m ready to see some people get their fucking teeth kicked in by a geriatric!

I’ve covered lots of Cannon Films on this blog, but I’ve only covered a couple movies from their big Chuck duo – Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris.  Those two previous films, The Delta Force and Firewalker, both belong to Chuck Norris.  It was often said, as a bit of an inside thing, that the Cannon Films casting often looked at whatever goofy movie Golan and Globus wanted to make and then separated them into the two Chuck piles.  Some were better for Chuck Norris’ skill set while others were better for Bronson.  I’m guessing the movies that needed a more mobile action star who might be able to be more hands on with dishing out justice to punks went to Norris.  Then the ones that seemed more suitable for a Clint Eastwood type went to Bronson.  After all, by the time Bronson started making tons of Cannon Films, he was in his 50s and seemed much older than Norris anyway.

Assassination paired Bronson with his real life wife, Jill Ireland.  And while there does seem to be an interesting premise – the First Lady is on the run for her life with a Secret Service agent assigned to her only to find out that perhaps the people who want her dead are actually occupants of the White House itself! – the trailer kind of shows two issues.  First, this seems almost like a rehash of the witness-to-a-crime-on-the-run-with-cop idea in Cobra (a Cannon movie from the year before).  Second, it has the good old fashioned Golan-Globus Americanism involved with this bitch of a First Lady being difficult to deal with and making you wish Nancy Reagan was still around.

Ugh…  Just…  Fuck that.

Anyway, this does have an interesting director in Peter Hunt.  This guy directed one of the most underrated James Bond films in the entire, long history of the series – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  In fact, Hunt had a major hand in the entire Bond series up to that point, serving as either editor or part of the editing department for every single film in the series before OHMSS.  This guy is kind of a hero of mine.  Not only is this another “secret service” movie, the star also married to the leading lady (in OHMSS, Bond actually fell in love and got married to the leading Bond Lady, much like how Bronson and Ireland are a real life couple), but this also, sadly was Hunt’s final outing as a director of any kind for a major theatrically released film.

So, let’s get into this and see if Cannon has put the “Ass” back into Assassination!

We start with shots of Washington, D.C. as action thriller music plays over views of all our capital city’s beautiful monuments and stuff.  So, right out of the gate, Cannon does not disappoint with me wanting to sing the “America, Fuck Yeah!” song while the actual music playing make me think about to watch an episode of T.J. Hooker.  Charles Bronson plays Jay Killian who arrives on Inauguration Day and gets his assignment that he’s going to be guarding the First Lady, Lara Craig.  He’s warned that she’s a tough broad and that whole Nancy Reagan comment is said.  One of Killian’s secret service buddies talks about how he once dated a chick like Craig.  She was one of those equal rights bitches, see?  She went nuts about it too what with opening doors for him and lighting his cigarettes and the such….

YEESH, these fucking broads need to learn their place, amirite guys?!?

Then, in walks Lara Craig.  She gives Killian some shit about never seeing him before, despite the fact that this guy is supposedly, like, the best ever secret service bad ass or whatever.  He tells her that it’s vitally important that she do everything he tells her for her safety.  She responds that it’s vitally important that he does everything she tells him because she’s not gonna go in for that male chauvinist bullshit he’s gonna levy onto her.  Killian’s especially displeased by her desire to ride to the inauguration in a convertible, but she says fuck off to that business and demands they do things her way.

Guys, this is nearly unwatchable in these first seven minutes for several reasons.  First, they say it is a cold day in Washington, but everyone’s hot for the new President to be sworn in.  Everything is bright, sunny, and greener than a fucking hippy.  Seriously, it looks like July outside.  That shit bothers me a bunch.  I mean, how am I supposed to believe it is the third week in January when everyone looks like they should be working on their tan in this beautifully sunny day?!?

Ugh…  This is the just the worst.

Nah, I’m just kidding.  That shit bothers me, but not nearly as much as the portrayal of the Ireland’s First Lady Lara Craig.  She’s a total fucking asshole.  Seriously.  Like, I mean, I’d be okay if the titular assassination attempt is successful.  She’s immediately smug, unlikable and kinda deserves our derision.  She immediately comes out hot treating the assigned agent in charge of KEEPING HER ALIVE like human garbage.  She even treats the lady agent working with Killian like a fucking asshole too.

I know, I know…  This is all written in some sort of response to these fucking “equal rights” cunts that conservative America types were terrified of in the 80s.  Bronson isn’t even the actual contrast.  He’s just being Charles Bronson and saying she needs to take her safety a little more seriously.  I agree with that.  Ireland, on the other hand, is a goddamn cartoon of the worst type of feminist a red-blooded American man thinks are real.  Yes, there are some really, really problematic types of crusaders out there, but she is about as much of a real feminist as Bugs Bunny is a real rabbit.

“Accident? No dice…”

Anyway, she is sitting up high in the back of the convertible and Killian says it is really dangerous to be up that high and she sits even higher, like a child.  She even threatens to kick him in the balls if he touches her after he says he will pull her down.  Sure enough, a sneaky looking cop pulls up along side the car and suspiciously wipes out and explodes.  Before that, Killian pulls Craig down and covers her up.  You know, as you do when you’re a secret service agent.

Even though most believe it was simply an accident, Killian doesn’t seem to think so.  He thinks it is a paid killer named Reno Bracken.  He tells his superior to check in on him and the bike and it will be apparent the tire didn’t blow out like usual.

Later, Killian, because he is Charles Bronson, gets hit on, out of the blue I might add, by his partner on the Craig case, Charlotte Chang.  Why this is here, I couldn’t tell you.  Bronson always has younger women hot for him in these Cannon movies.  However, despite Chang being kind of annoying in some of her dumb lines about how excited she is to hear that Killian’s divorce is final, she is not an asshole chick broad like Craig.

At a press conference, Craig answers questions about… policy and things?  It comes out that perhaps there are some marital problems between the new Prez and the First Asshole and the reporter who asked questions about it reveals there are inside leaks about what’s going on between the sheets.  The next day, Craig has somehow slipped the secret service and tries to leave for California.  Killian and Chang catch up to her at Andrews Air Force Base to find out what the big idea is.  She plans to sail to Catalina for a couple weeks, but the captain says her boat, cleverly(?) named the “Spread Eagle”, is being painted.  She demands they drop the boat into the water regardless and fuck off with this maintenance bullshit.  He caves because she’s a fucking lesbian feminist tyrant and all, you know.  One of the guys working on the boat sticks some silly putty onto the bottom of the shit and then a little self-sticky car dashboard digital clock onto the putty.

Silly Putty + sticky dashboard clock does not equal bomb

I guess that is a bomb in the world of Cannon Films.

I mean, this movie, like so many other Cannon Films, bombed.  So…


Seriously, I remember those little clocks.  In the mid 80s, pretty much all cars came standard with a digital clock on the dashboard.  Anyone who had a car older than that, like my grandparents, didn’t have a clock in the car.  Sure, they could wear watches, but what if you forgot to slip it on when you left for work?  So, for relatively cheap, like real cheap, you could get these little digital clocks and stick ’em onto the dashboard with the sticky stuff on the back of them.  They’d stay there for about 37 minutes, then the heat inside the car during the spring, summer, or fall would cause them to lose their stickiness and they’d be on the floorboards of the cabin.  They were really, really bad.  It got to the point that you’d just have them sitting loose on top of the dash or in the glove compartment.  That was about as much as you could expect from them.

You notice something here?  Notice how little I’m actually talking about this goddamn movie?  There’s nothing here worth a fuck.  Twenty minutes in and you don’t like most of the people in the movie, not much has really happened, and you actually want the assassination attempt to be successful.  I know what’s going to happen already.  Killian is going to have all the right plans to help them escape death, and that bitch Craig is just gonna shoot them all down and demand they do things her way which will also be the wrong way and probably put them into some hairy situations.  He’ll be right all along, and they will begrudgingly, eventually fall in love.  He’ll deep dick her and she’ll mellow out and become an awesome lady that will probably serve him beer while he watches the football game on Sundays.

Whoa!  This is happening way faster than I thought:


What you’re seeing above is Killian again doing his job.  He tells Craig she can’t go on her family’s boat until the secret service has a chance to look over the boat from top to bottom.  She pouts but all of a sudden that little car clock thing blows up the boat real good.  She doesn’t want to return to Washington despite the President ordering them all to go back.  She almost seems completely disinterested in being with her husband.  That, and what the reporter said earlier about them not sharing a bed since the convention prior to the election…  Well, that seems pretty suspicious.

Oh what the fuck is this shit now?!?

I guess Killian and Chang had a hot fuck session after bringing the First Lady home.  I mean…  Yikes.  Also, this is a Charles Bronson movie, the odds are not great at all that Charlie is gonna survive.  All of Bronson’s love interests and friends die.  They all get raped and die in these Cannon movies.  Seriously, every single Bronson action flick has really, really bad things happen to his loved ones.

Again, I’m off topic.

Killian tells the President’s Chief of Staff that he thinks someone is trying to kill the First Lady.  He tells Killian to take a week off.  He hands off the investigation to another agent, but his boss calls him back in immediately and belays the leave of absence.


The agents are called in and briefed about some missiles that have been stolen – probably by the Reno Bracken guy that Killian thinks is making these attempts on Craig’s life.  They think the missiles will be used to try to shoot down the presidential helicopter that will be used to transport Craig.  So, Killian pulls a switcheroo and has her taken off the chopper before reaching their destination.  The agents have an idea where the guy who is going to try to blow the chopper out of the sky is stationed and approach.  Sure enough,this bad guy’s got a fuckin’ bazooka and tries to blow up the chopper.

However, Killian’s got a motorcycle with an attached uzi and tries to kill the thug.  When the guy blows up Killian’s motorcycle, Killian pulls out his bazooka and tries to blow up the barn where the guy was hiding out.  Sadly, the bad guy escapes on his own motorcycle and all of a sudden, I think I’m watching a fucking G.I. Joe cartoon.  Everyone has a fucking bazooka!

Now the President thinks the attacks are focused on Killian and not the First Lady which… doesn’t make any sense.  Cut to Killian’s apartment where the bomb squad are looking over the body of the reporter that pressed Craig about her and the President’s sex life.  Apparently he had a bomb up his ass or something because they are pulling wires out of the back of the guy’s pants.  That guy was seriously gonna blow it out his ass!

Killian gets reassigned to watch Craig’s press lady.  He and Charlotte follow her to a museum where Craig is gonna donate her inauguration gown.  Charlotte follows the lady into the museum and into the bathroom.  When he sends her back in, out comes Craig in disguise.  He follows her and she convinces him to travel with her.  They get a room at a roadside motel.

I don’t fucking understand what’s going on.  Craig says she’s running from whoever is trying to kill her, yet she’s doing it in every possible way that will likely get her into more danger and possibly killed.  She says she can have the president cover for her.  Now Killian finally speaks up saying that this could very possibly be the worst idea because maybe the President is the person who wants her dead.  She… doesn’t seem to react beyond a pout and saying that’s just kinda ridiculous.  Most people, in most situations anyway, would be aghast at the idea that their spouse would be gunning for their deaths.  She doesn’t seem all that bothered by the idea.

I am a fan, but why is this just randomly put in here?

Cut to Charlotte in her bed, eating strawberries and wearing a ridiculously sexy little satin-like thing.  Killian tells her that he can’t talk but is checking in.  A bad guy shoots up the motel room but is killed by Killian after a narrow escape.

Killian and Craig continue their cross country trek where they arrive in Kokomo, Indiana.  There, they get a couple motorcycles since no one would expect to see her on a bike.  That night, Killian reveals that he read her husband’s medical file from the Air Force.  Turns out the President is impotent as a result of an accident.  Craig now decides that she is going to get a discreet divorce, and Killian realizes that’s the hitch to this entire plan.  A divorce makes it almost impossible for the President to get re-elected, but as a widower, he’ll probably be a shoe-in.

Jesus, someone get some extra protection on Melania…  Oops, off topic again.

The next day, Craig and Killian are back on the road and a crazed killer in a truck comes roaring up behind them.  Thanks to a narrow bridge and an oncoming train, they dodge another attempt on her life.  The truck explodes after being run off the road, because of course it explodes.  Killian wonders how anyone could possibly know where they are.  Later, they get on a train and they flirt, because, well, that’s what you do on trains.  The next morning, the train makes an unscheduled stop.  Two men get off a helicopter that lands next to the train and start searching for them.  They get off the train and she reveals that she has been reporting her location and movements to the President.

They continue to…  Wait.  Where are they going?  Why are they going across America?  Why, while hitchhiking, do they get picked up by a Native American and do we have to deal with this scene where they get some shit from this guy in warpaint?  Why does the Native lady at the guy’s car dealership bitch out Craig when she assumes the guy is her husband?  Why?

I’ve had pretty much the same look on my face this whole movie too.

Oh whatever, Killian gets a dune buggy for them to keep traveling.  We do find out that the chief of staff for the President is the one setting up the assassination attempts.  I also realize where Killian and Craig are going – to her father’s home in… Nevada?  Sure, it’s Nevada.

Killian explains the plan to kill Craig.  Charlotte and Killian’s other secret service buddy, a black guy named Loudermilk, arrive to help out.  However, they aren’t the only ones to arrive.  Bracken shows up with a boatload of explosives.  Bracken is on a jet-ski and Killian chases after him in a motorboat.  High tension and thrills abound as they slowly chase each other on water.  They eventually hit land and shoot at each other in the woods.  Killian fakes being hit and kills Bracken in a relatively unimpressive conclusion to the assassination attempts.

Senator Bunsen, the chief of staff, gets confronted by the FBI, and he tries to escape, but Killian throws him out of a glass elevator because… sure, whatever.  They cover up his wrongdoing by just saying he was in failing health and has passed away.  Killian retires from the service and takes a job with Craig’s father in Tahoe.  Surprisingly, Charlotte didn’t get raped or killed, and they actually seem to be on their way to living happily ever after.

This movie kind of sucked.  I mean Charles Bronson is pretty awesome and I generally like him, but this movie was a whole lotta nuthin’.  Just go back and look at how often I veered off the path of keeping up with this movie.  As I stated before, this was a movie that seemed to have the exact same premise as Cobra with Sylvester Stallone, but that one was so much better and more exciting than this.  It doesn’t help that Craig was totally unlikable.  The relationship between Charlotte and Killian was kind of cute, but also kinda gross considering it seemed he was twice as old as she was.  Was it a terribly bad watch?  Not exactly.  The first ten minutes were really rough with how over the top First Lady Craig was, but it did finally settle in even if you still didn’t care for her.  The movie wasn’t overly cheap, but it was nothing super exciting either.  It’s a movie that might be viewed if it just so happened onto the TV one night, but I would likely not recommend it to anyone or seek out watching it again.  If you want some good Cannon Charles Bronson, check out Death Wish 3 or 10 to Midnight.

Next week, I check out a movie that sorta stars everyone’s favorite Caped Crusader, Adam West!  I return to Canada for another horror flick that also served as one of the very first roles for the very lovely Tia Carrere – Zombie Nightmare.  Be here in seven days to see all the voodoo revenge fun!

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