If all you notice about a movie which features vast amounts of blood that is squirted, splattered, splotched, and gushed is the manner of its delivery, then you’re in for a boring movie.
Indeed, all that commends itself about “Ninja Assassin,” directed by James McTeigue, written by Matthew Sand, J. Michael Straczynski, is the cool technique they use to depict blood splatter but, unless you’re Dexter of the eponymous Showtime TV series, blood splatters do not an interesting movie make.
That’s all that can be said of this dreary, mind-numbing slasher film, its measly special effect. The story is muddled, the acting is non-existent, the flashbacks that are supposed to give us the ninja’s backstory drag on and on, and the fight scenes last so long you could take a loo break and not miss a beat of this grand guignol of beheadings, trunks sliced in half, arms, hands, and fingers cut off.
The story’s set in Germany where Mika (Naomie Harris), an employee of Europol (a movie version of Interpol) finds a link between assassinations of public figures around the world and a particular ninja clan. The ninjas come from what amounts to an orphanage and one of them, Raizu (Rain), breaks away when a girl-ninja is killed for violating one of the clan’s laws.
Her boss is Maslow (Ben Miles). He’s out of his element here. He’s weedy looking, he looks like he should be drinking a martini and not firing an automatic weapon, and he clearly has no business fighting hordes upon hordes of these black clad warriors who, in spite of their unbelievable fighting prowess, don’t stand a chance against the gunfire and missiles of the climactic scene.
The assassin himself, Rain’s Raizu, is big screen handsome, has an unexpected sense of humor and a physique to put Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautner to shame. He also has a cool killer gaze: he squints his eyes when danger approaches and woe be to anyone or any dozen in his way. Though you can watch the movie and focus entirely on him. this movie’s not a good vehicle for him. He doesn’t have a good supporting cast and the movie is all bluster and no substance.
Though it’s billed as an action film, the fight scenes are too long and too many of them happen at warp speed, presumably because some of these ninjas can move like vampires, here and gone, there and gone. But it does make it hard to try to focus on much less appreciate the action.
What is of interest is how, every time someone was killed, the blood seemed to come forward and splatter on some invisible pane of glass between the camera and the scene. I’m not sure what the effect was supposed to convey but it was almost three-dimensional and made me wonder how helacious the movie would be to watch with 3-D goggles.
And if that’s all that can be said for the film, then that’s a bloody shame.