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Assassination Misses Target

Published January 12, 2005 in MOVIE REVIEW
By Bubba Craner | Images property of ThinkFilm
The Assassination of Richard Nixon
The Assassination of Richard Nixon is a compelling psychological drama that turns out to be anti-climatic. Sean Penn, who plays Samuel Bicke, the lead role, delivers another astonishing performance as he reaches back to a character that reminds us of his role as Sam in I Am Sam. Penn is accompanied on the screen by Don Cheadle (Ocean's Twelve and Swordfish) and Naomi Watts (21 Grams and The Ring), who also deliver unforgettable performances, however there just seem to be a few bullets short of a full clip on this one. The plot may have been a little too ambitious for Niels Meuller who gives this to us as his debut feature.

Movie Review of Assassination

Set in 1974, Samuel Bicke is an office furniture salesman who just can't seem to grab a piece of the American dream that he so viciously chases. His job is going nowhere, his boss relentlessly challenges his psych with the persistence of self-help and successful management books, and his marriage is in the cross hairs. Penn does an outstanding job at showing us Bicke's inner conflict of trying to play the game of life while immersed in oppression, which is really just a conjured up sensation. His oppression is heighten by the escalation of the Vietnam War, seemingly caused by President Nixon; his only outlet is to turn to the Black Panther Party, which relied on the phrase "By all means necessary" to entice their following.

Bickes best friend is bonny simmons (Don Cheadle) and together they plan to start a mobile tire business. Bonny is a black American who runs a starving auto mechanic business, but doesn't let his blackness get in the way of playing the game of life. Bicke is determined to feel that because of Bonny's blackness, they can't receive funding for their tire business, which he naively prepares for.

Don Cheadle in The Assassination of Richard Nixon
The climax of the movie fails to thrill audiences, not because of the great performances of Penn, Cheadle or Watts, but because the plot leaves a few holes in it. For the sake of not revealing too many key aspects of the film I must end the synopsis, however I must also leave a disclaimer: Penn and his supporting cast are absolutely superb in this film, however the plot is just a little too grand to be considered an award-worthy film. Nonetheless, I am not discouraging any views from this film, because it is always a treat to watch Penn perform in a demanding role. And Cheadle and Watts compliment him like a suit compliments a salesman, however, don't feel deprived when the movie ends and you don't know how to feel-it's the plot!!


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Bubba Craner
Sources: Images property of ThinkFilm

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