When a movie doesn't promote or market its lead character and instead relies on advertising the three more popular co-stars instead, one has to begin wondering whether the movie is really any good. It isn't. Mark Mikita, known more as a stuntman, gets the lead role as Vet Jones, a supposedly top flight assassin in his second acting role of his career. While the titillating opening credit scenes capture the attention of the male audience with its sensuality, the subsequent immediate ambush scene is a let down. Instead of Clear and Present Danger (1994) and its the Colombian ambush scene where FBI Director Emil Jacobs is killed having the sustained intensity and credibility that makes for a truly powerful experience, the initial ambush in Assassin's Game comes across as sporadic and suspect in its brief depiction and over too soon resolution. The initial heavy use of rock music seems to either reflect an attempt to portray toughness and power or some cute form of directorial display of creative ability, but it comes across more as a compensatory technique to salvage the hollowness of the dramatic slow-motion of the cinematography. Instead the over-reliance on the extended slow-motion photography and rock music begins to actually drag the movie and becomes more of time filler than an interesting integral part of the action or plot.
Tom Sizemore get the unenvious role of attempting to play the tough guy with a call for a lot of shouting under the direction of Anoop Rangi in his second movie credit. Considering Sizeman is a solid actor, his overly dramatic and two-dimensional performance is most likely attributable to the director and the script. The assassin team itself seems to be composed of pretty sad and overly incompetent and unconvincing assassins. It's apparent the director Rangi tries to incorporate some nice touches but with mixed success. The phone call early in the movie where Vet doesn't speak a word is intriguing, yet underdeveloped. The backstory underlying the relationship and the emotional ties between the characters and their motivation is lacking making the movie seem overly simple and again two-dimensional. The movie lacks convincing intellectual depth.
There's a potentially interesting twist a little ways into the movie, but the bare script leaves too much out and makes for an unconvincing, hard to accept plot twist. Too much of Vet's decisions don't offer up any reasons behind them, making the script seem to be a mishmash of ideas and directions that don't seem to allow the audience to get behind. There's even a suggestion of Vet having an outdated sexual bias. And Mikita's acting performance comes across wooden without a lot of personality even for a professional assassin. One of the few strengths and a critical one as this is an action movie, many scenes involving the stuntman-actor Mark Mikita where he gets to display exciting and some sharp, biting martial art moves. Even his nice fighting skills later in the movie however eventually become boringly stale and mundane when they become the main feature for their own sake instead of being a fascinating contribution to the movie. Contrast Vet's dull performance to the much better choreographic and articulated combat presentation by Rupert Friend as Agent 47 in Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) or Keanu Reeve's intense portrayal in John Wick (2014).
Eventually, there's an odd question that arises about why there is this particular assassin team in the movie in the first place and one can speculate that this its rather illogical inclusion is just a plot device that was written into the script that was supposed to make this movie different and more appealing which now seems rather suspect. It also remains a question about what Vet meant when he says, "Get it done." The audience and probably even the characters themselves don't know what he's talking about. And who is this important "target" anyway?
The talents of Vivica J. Fox seem wasted as a befuddled, scared target in contrast to her more pleasant and powerful assassin role in Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003). Even Bai Ling, the Asian martial arts superstar doesn't get much of a persona of interest in contrast to the highly under-rated movie and great underplayed performance of Lucy Liu in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002). There is an oddly and seemingly random flashback in the first half of the movie that attempts to provide a little emotional depth to both Fox and Bai Ling's characters, but it just seems ill-placed with a sense of discontinuity without helping to really fill in more substantive details of the story. Then suddenly, even though it was telegraphed a little earlier, other characters seem to come from nowhere and a gun battle ensues. It just seems a bit confusing with too many story lines going on along with all the fighting including even a psycho-babble scene. The separate fight scenes seem to be too conveniently coordinated and tied up together by time they are done making for a somewhat artificial sense to the plot and paint by the numbers. In reality, Bai Ling's character, no matter how good she is, is forced in the movie to be over-matched by sheer numbers and having to unreasonably multi-task in taking on two parallel topical narratives in one gun battle onslaught that just doesn't ring true. Eventually her character also seems destined to be thrown into the garbage heap for her contribution to the movie. Fox's character is sorely left without much to do and seems wasted in this movie. It's actually painful to see her have to suffer with her non-performance.
When it comes to some of the gun battles, the shots seem so conveniently poorly aimed for assassins. There just seems not enough professionalism in these scenes and instead there is a focus on the usual standard gun battle fare often seen on television. Then there are gun scenes and even unbelievable hand to hand combat scenes that seem to ignore the practicality of using guns to get the job done which it seems to have been completely forgotten in one scene. Evil characters just to come from nowhere, unexpectedly for no reason except to just to add to the film's length and maybe to show off, but really become excruciatingly tedious while the meantime as well as the former team of assassins seemingly waste their time with badly edited relational disputes between assassins who also make foolish decisions.
For the most of the movie, the audience is left mostly in the dark was to what is actually going on and why the characters are doing what they are doing. Overall, this movie is uneven, unbalanced, with poor editing and inconsistent emotional tone as well as mish mashed together with a storyline that flops over into a lot of meandering and dumb dialogue in places (worrying about burying a body while a mysterious bad guy is still on the loose) and wild bewildering thinking that is supposed to emotionally impress the audience but doesn't. What this amounts to is a movie that is difficult to watch and upsetting in its apparent idiotic presentation at times, a movie that actually pushes its audience away from wanting to watch it with its inane plot devices and mean-spirited or bumbling characters that one really ends up not liking. It borders on actually becoming one of a remarkably few movies that almost justifies a "negative" number or star except the victim Fox who oddly enough seems to have the least to do in the movie.