Every now and again, you watch a movie you don’t want to watch and come out feeling even worse than you felt going in. That crushing feeling that you had the right measure of the film from the trailers, and 98 minutes later, you’ve just proven yourself right, for no reason.
That was the general gist of my thought-process once I had finished True Memoirs of an International Assassin, Netflix’s first film with Kevin James, following in the footsteps of his frequent collaborator, Adam Sandler, in what is likely to be a new slew of painfully-unfunny comedies.
TMoaIA (not typing out the full title) chronicles the unfortunate mishaps of writer Sam J. Larson, whose titular novel lands him in a spot of bother after people believe these ‘true memoirs’ to be actually true. He is thrown into the messy politics of Venezuela, where three different parties try to recruit him to assassinate one another’s leaders.
Kevin James looks intensely worried as himself and his character just realise what sort of mess they’ve gotten themselves into
There’s some strong potential in the concept for some biting satire to lampoon the 10-a-penny bargain-bucket thrillers you see people reading on your average long-haul flight, but when the film’s ambitions only extend as far as lifting a multiple-choice mission from any open-world videogame, you know the film’s in trouble. Kevin James looks intensely worried as himself and his character just realise what sort of mess they’ve gotten themselves into, while Andy Garcia pops up with a wildman beard, making you wonder where he’s been hiding since the Ocean’s trilogy came to a close.
Netflix makes everything looks as flat as a pancake (or, more appropriately, a TV episode), so there’s nothing even vaguely interesting visually to get lost in. There’s only an endless void where humour should be, stuffed with confusing plotting and impossible-to-care-about stakes.
I think I counted about three occasions where I found something slightly funny, but I remember half-smirking and exhaling lightly, so I could’ve just been sighing. Avoid.
More like this: The Do-Over (2016)