‘He doesn’t look like a ninja, he looks like he should be in a boy-band,’ comments a police investigator on first sighting of Ninja Assassin’s pyjama-clad killer Raizo, played by pop-star Rain. Given Rain’s pedigree as a crooner, it’s a comment that nails the central problem of James McTeigue’s daft yet dull thriller; Raizo must be the most girlie-looking ninja ever captured on film.
Re-teaming McTeigue with his V For Vendetta producers The Wachowski brothers, Ninja Assassin sets itself up nicely with two blood-drenched set pieces which promise the kind of deliriously daft Euro-thriller that Luc Besson has made his own. But as police agent Mika (Naomi Harris) enlists Raizo’s help to track down the secret ninja brotherhood led by Ozunu (genre veteran Sho Kosugi), McTeigue’s film bogs itself down in mundane dialogue, drab Berlin locations and tedious fistfights.
With games like Assassin’s Creed 2 flying off the shelves, there’s clearly an audience out there for a decent covert action flick, but apart from a couple of lively fire-fights, McTeigue’s film is all filler and not enough ninja killer to appeal even to a teenage audience. And casting an actor who looks like an X-Factor contestant makes this ninja more ass than assassin.
General release from Fri 8 Jan.