The Assassin Next Door Danny Lerner

The Assassin Next Door Danny Lerner
The Assassin Next Door is a terrible title for this film. In its native Israel, the original title, Kirot, translates to Walls, a much more apt and dignified name for a movie that shouldn't be associated with terrible Jackie Chan comedies or trashy late night cable movies. Furthermore, the DVD cover, which features Olga Kurylenko holding a gun in front of a bull's-eye, with blood spattered on it, is ridiculous and misleading. I'm guessing the aim is to sell a mostly dramatic tale of female martyrdom and subjugation as a techno-fuelled action-fest with a hot Ukrainian Bond girl running around in a miniskirt shooting guns and kicking ass. Now, Galia (Kurylenko) does kick some ass when pinned to the wall, escaping from a gang of Israeli mobsters holding her captive as a prostitute, only to be reassigned as an assassin when they see her edge and craftiness. But this film is less about her assassination gig and more about her quiet refusal to accept her fate passively, while bonding with battered neighbour Elinor (Ninette Tayeb). Their depiction of women on the defensive, understanding each other's misanthropic leanings and harshness as a mode of survival, is what drives this surprisingly professional and smart thriller. What's also impressive is that the little action depicted in the film exists for character trajectory, deepening Galia's internal conflict and strength as her confidence in battle increases. Her predicament draws obvious comparisons to that of La Femme Nikita, but where that was a tale of redemption and identity as a series of compounded signifiers, this is a story specifically of survival and feminine morals in the face of abject male suppression. Writer/director Danny Lerner handles this emotional trajectory with surprising poise, keeping the violence and action gritty without delving into anything unnecessarily gratuitous. Even if his message wanes a bit in the final act due to an unnecessary fatalistic sacrifice, this film works quite well on both an intellectual and visceral level, which is quite impressive. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with the DVD. (Mongrel Media)