Assassination is a taut and action-packed drama that is now available for streaming on Netflix. It co-stars real-life husband and wife actors, Charles Bronson (The Great Escape) and Jill Ireland (The Valachi Papers). The classic film is centered on a secret service agent’s (Bronson) attempts to foil an assassination plot against the newly elected first lady (Ireland) and the complications that arise.
Bronson portrays Secret Service Agent Jay Killion, who is a seasoned presidential bodyguard. However, after returning from leave for an injury, he is assigned to the new First Lady (FLOTUS), Ireland’s Lara Royce Craig. The newly elected first family is determined to set its own rules and make an indelible mark. This is certainly the case with the FLOTUS. Lara is a woman who stands her ground, has a clear agenda, and initially resents Killion’s presence and methods, despite the fact that he is charged with her protection. She tries very hard to avoid him, attempts to get him reassigned, and often disregards his safety protocols. This is until repeated attempts are made on Lara’s life. When it becomes clear that assassins are trying to kill her, the shaken FLOTUS asks for Killion’s help even after he is reassigned.
In the Netflix movie classic, Assassination, it is Killion’s instincts and precautionary methods that will help keep the imperiled FLOTUS alive. After much initial resistance, Lara puts her trust and life in Killion’s hands as the pair embark on a difficult and often perilous cross-country journey, with the assassins close on their heels.
There is a playful chemistry between the real-life spouses that adds almost a slapstick element to the film at times. There are also several laugh-out-loud moments that permeate the classic flick, despite its action-drama concept. Added to the appeal of the two leads, there is also a talented supporting cast, which includes Secret Service Agent Charlotte Chong (Jan Gan Boyd), who is Killion’s partner in more ways than one, and Senator Hector Bunsen (Michael Ansara), who is a presidential right-hand man with a twist. The supporting cast helps elevate the film and provides surprising twists and turns to the movie’s plot. There is also impressive chemistry exchanged among the leads and supporting cast that will delight and intrigue viewers.
The fact that Bronson and Ireland were real-life spouses certainly augmented their on-screen chemistry together. Ireland married Bronson in 1968. They had first met when her first husband, David McCallum (NCIS), introduced them on the set of The Great Escape (1963). She divorced McCallum in 1967 and married Bronson the following year. Together, Bronson and Ireland had two children, a biological daughter and an adopted daughter. While Ireland had three sons with McCallum during their relationship. The couple co-starred in a total of 15 films over two decades, beginning with Rider on the Rain (1970). The stalwart mates are also known for Ireland’s public cancer battles in the 1980s, which she documented in two books that detailed her struggles and advocacy work with the American Cancer Society. Ireland succumbed to breast cancer, with Bronson by her side, at their home in Malibu, California on May 18, 1990. She was 54 years old at the time of her death. Bronson died in Los Angeles, CA in August of 2003 from pneumonia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Among Netflix classic movies, Assassination is a diamond in the rough. Even movie lovers who do not particularly enjoy action films will find themselves drawn to this unexpected flick. There is something for everyone in this overlooked classic gem–laughter, suspense, action, hijinks, slapstick comedy, and lots of chemistry. It is a Netflix classic movie waiting to be discovered.
Review By Leigh Haugh