Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Michel Serrault, Mathieu Kassovitz, Mehdi Benoufa
Duration: 128 min.
For over 40 years, Mr. Wagner has been a successful assassin, but now he is 70; his hands tremble and his eyesight and reflexes are rapidly failing. Mr. Wagner is ready to retire, but first he must find a successor.
Assassin(s) is a film directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, his eagerly awaited followup to La Haine. It premiered in competition at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
This dark morality tale begins after the aging hit man Wagner (Michel Serrault) catches bumbling petty thief Max (Mathieu Kassovitz) snooping around his apartment, he takes the young man under his wing and tries to teach him the tools of his trade. It's obvious Max is the wrong candidate for the job, but Wagner knows his days are numbered with his health rapidly deteriorating so he proceeds with the lessons anyways.
The film follows the pair of them using scenes of unbridled violence and the constant familiar glow of television screens in the foreground and background. In fact, practically every indoor scene features a TV screen with some sort of violent or mindless program spouting incessant nonsense. An overtly blatant statement about the role of media and TV in the desensitizing of modern society towards crime and violence. A highlight scene features a child watching what at first appears to be a typical banal teenage sitcom, but ends up being a macabre murder and gang rape punctuated with a laugh track.
The story does suffer from repetition and drags on a bit, especially after a surprise narrative change-up 3/4's of the way through, but it is all stylishly directed with some great visuals handled by La Haine cinematographer Pierre Aïm.
Kassovitz had his work cut out for him after the massive success of La Haine, and anything was doomed to be a letdown after the greatness of that film, but Assassin(s) is still a good effort with some impressive camerawork.
— Bonjour Tristesse