Charles Bronson, man.
Long before Clint Eastwood starred in In The Line of Fire, Charles Bronson played an over the hill secret service agent in Assassination. Having just returned to active service after a six month leave of absence, Jay Killian (Charles Bronson), thinks that he is going to be assigned back to the presidential detail. Instead, he is given the job that no one wants. Jay is assigned to protect the first lady, Lara Craig (Jill Ireland, Bronson’s real-life wife).
Lara is a handful. Every one tells Killian that she is “even worse than Nancy.” (This running joke probably played better in 1987. If Assassination had been released ten years later, Lara would have been described as being “even worse than Hillary.”) Lara does not like being told what she can and cannot do. When she refuses to follow Killian’s orders not to ride in a convertible, she ends up getting a black eye when a motorcycle crashes and Killian instinctively throws her to the floor. Lara may not like Killian but when, she is targeted by a notorious terrorist (Erik Stern), she will have to learn to trust him. Her life depends on it, especially when it becomes clear that the order to have her killed is coming from inside the White House. It turns out that the President has been impotent for years. That may not have troubled Lara before but now Killian is showing her that a real man looks like Charles Bronson. A divorced president will never be reelected. A widowed president, on the other hand…
Assassination was one of the last films that Bronson made for Cannon. It’s never as wild as Murphy’s Law, Kinjite, or many of Bronson’s other Cannon films but it is always interesting to watch Bronson acting opposite of Ireland. Bronson famously did not get along with many people but he loved Ireland and that was something that always came through in the 15 movies that they made together. Whenever Bronson and Ireland acted opposite each other, Bronson actually seemed to be enjoying himself. And while it may be subdued when compared to his other Cannon films, Assassination provides just enough scenes of Bronson being Bronson.
Who other than Bronson could tell his much younger girlfriend that, because of her, he might “die of terminal orgasm?”
Who other than Bronson could drive around a motorcycle with machine gun turrets and execute a jump that would put his old co-star Steve McQueen to shame?
Who other than Bronson could use a bazooka to kill one man and then smile about it?
Charles Bronson, man. No offense to Bruce Willis, who will be trying to step into Bronson’s gigantic shoes with the upcoming Death Wish remake, but nobody did it better than Bronson.