Monday, 22 September 2014

Sofia (aka Assassin's Bullet)

SOFIA (2012)

Directed by: Isaac Florentine
Written by: Hans Feuersinger & Nancy L. Babine
Starring: Christian Slater, Elika Portnoy, Timothy Spall & Donald Sutherland

Director Isaac Florentine takes a break from crafting bad ass action films (Undisputed 2 & 3, Ninja 1 & 2), to try his hand at a dramatic thriller (don’t worry, there are still a couple of high impact action scenes) with, unfortunately, somewhat disappointing results. Slater is Robert Diggs a former top FBI agent now living a quieter life in Sofia, Bulgaria as a cultural attaché. When an assassin starts taking out vigilante vengeance on the FBI’s most wanted list, Diggs’ boss (Sutherland) ropes him back into service to find out what the hell is going on. Meanwhile, Timothy Spall is a rather creepy psychiatrist treating a young woman (Portnoy) who is suffering from severe blackouts. Spall also happens to be Diggs’ best mate with the two frequenting a local belly dancing bar (!), where Diggs strikes up a romance with one of the dancers (also Portnoy). Soon Diggs’ personal life becomes entangled with the hunt for the assassin and mucho intrigue and a shed load of belly dancing ensue all leading to a twist that is obvious from about ten minutes in.

While it’s great to see Florentine trying his hand a something other than awesome martial arts action, Sofia will most likely be a massive let down to his fans. It’s certainly got a good cast, some nice locations and is impressively shot but the muddled, uninteresting script hampers proceedings from the get go with far too much time spent on Slater being seduced by the belly dancing charms of Portnoy (seriously, there is so much belly dancing in this film it may as well have been a documentary about the dance!). After a pretty cool opening featuring the black clad assassin taking out a group of targets (and making one believe they are in for a fun action ride) proceedings slip into drudgery as we watch belly dance after belly dance, see Slater become more confused by what’s going on (much like the viewer!) and witness Sutherland hamming it up and having fun in his extended cameo (one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film). 

Unfortunately the film can’t help but slip into a dull grind and the ensuing conspiracy is just not as exciting or as sexy as it thinks it is. Slater does try his best and there is no doubting Florentine’s direction is slick. Fortunately, there a couple of the director’s trademark action beats  to liven things up with the aforementioned kill scene and an extended action blowout near the end where the assassin attempts to complete their killing mission. As always with Florentine, the action is fluid and exciting and features some polished choreography: there just should have been more of it and less of the belly dancing. Good to see Florentine attempting the conspiracy thriller genre and while there are flashes of excitement, Sofia disappointingly fizzles when it should sizzle.

Aka Assassin’s Bullet

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