True Memoirs of an International Assassin Plot Summary:
When his publisher markets his novel about a legendary gun-for-hire as non-fiction, Venezuelan revolutionaries kidnap author Sam Larson (Kevin James) and force him to help them assassinate their country’s president, unaware that Sam is a fraud.
My reasons for wanting to review this movie are kind of strange. I simply hadn’t reviewed a movie in a few months. I’m not a huge Kevin James fan. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a single thing he’s been in, aside from maybe one King of Queens episode.
Besides being my first Kevin James movie, this is the first Netflix original movie that I’ve reviewed. But even though this is my first, I know that, other than the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, Netflix original movies don’t carry the pedigree that Netflix’s television programming does. They’re probably just one level above TV movies. This is ironic, since Netflix is a movie service as well. It’s in the name. But with films like Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous 6 and Do-Over, that latter being suspiciously similar in premise to True Memoirs, is it any surprise?
Well, if you’re hoping for a masterpiece or a trainwreck with this movie, you’re going to be disappointed. And, no, I’m not referring to the movie Trainwreck.
You set that? That’s a joke. It’s not a very good joke, but its intent is humor. That’s something that True Memoirs of an International Assassin is in short supply of. It takes the action part in its action-comedy status too seriously. Time that could be spent delivering jokes is spent spinning a convoluted web. It mostly makes sense in the end, but it gets tiresome after Sam is kidnapped for the third time. Even at just over an hour and a half, the cat and mouse games feel more tedious than thrilling. You do pull for Sam but it’s more out of the innate language of the chase, which speaks to us as viewers. Considering that Larson really brings it upon himself, he almost deserves the trouble that comes his way.
Aside from running around, the rest of the action is fight scenes. Most of the burden rests on Zulay Henao (and her stunt double, presumably), who plays rogue DEA agent Rosa Bolivar. The scenes are actually pretty impressive for what they are. Still, this movie might have been funnier had they just gone with Kevin James’ character being an actual assassin and playing up the ridiculousness of the idea. It wouldn’t be too hard. A lot of the visual effects are cheesy anyway.
Most of the jokes that we do get are based on the eccentricities of certain characters, mainly the “Three Kings of Caracas.” Kevin James, on the other hand, plays the straight man. You might recognize comedian Rob Riggle (the guy who replaced the funnier Frank Caliendo on Fox NFL Sunday), who plays a member of the CIA, though the role is beyond nothing. They also somehow managed to drag Katie Couric into this. Some of the quips are mildly amusing, but the best joke, a spin on the “If I told you that I’d have to kill you” quote, comes in the first half hour.
I would say that True Memoirs will only please Kevin James fans, but I’m left to wonder whom exactly this film is for. It’s not the Paul Blart: Mall Cop kids crowd, given some of the language and, more notably, the violence; multiple people get shot in the head. I’d wager to say it’s pretty different from The King of Queens too (obviously). And it’s not really for action junkies. I guess it’s just for people looking for something to watch on Netflix, the “hundreds of shows and movies and nothing to watch” demographic.
With that, I’ve got to say, you could do worse, but you could do a lot better, and so can Netflix.
RATING: 5 OUT OF 10 (PASSABLE ENTERTAINMENT)
True Memoirs of an International Assassin Is on Netflix
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky