VOD film review: Assassins
Ivan Radford | On 31, Jan 2021
Director: Ryan White
Cast: Siti Aisyah, Hadi Azmi, Anna Fifield
Watch Assassins online in the UK: Sky Documentaries / NOW / Dogwoof On Demand / BFI Player / Curzon Home Cinema / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Famous for being secretive and tightly ruled, North Korea is a country that holds a fascinating mystery for those outside of its borders – and an underlying sense of menacing potential. But in 2017, the unknowable nation hit the news headlines for a particularly unsettling and unpredictable reason: the death of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. He was killed by VX nerve gas, which was smeared on his face at Kuala Lumpur airport. Assassins delves into the details behind the murder, to bizarre and chilling effect.
The killing was apparently carried out by two women at the airport, one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam. But once arrested, the pair claimed they weren’t even aware of what they were doing and had just been hired to play a video prank on the prominent figure. Kim Jong-nam was already an outcast in the nation’s eyes, moving from the once-presumed heir to Kim Jong-il to a disgraced exile, after it was discovered that he took his family on a secret trip to Disneyland.
Director Ryan White (The Case Against 8, Visible: Out on Television) has proven a master at balancing heartfelt human interest with precise storytelling, and here, he turns that meticulous eye for detail to a methodical, in-depth investigation. He takes us, with a compelling momentum, from Macau to Jakarta, as he pieces together a puzzle that suggests something more sinister than the womens’ stories – and yet doesn’t lose sight of the tragic, manipulated pawns at the story’s heart. What emerges is an extraordinarily plausible conspiracy that unfolds with the tension of a Hollywood thriller, one that leads little doubt in the possibility that the whole thing was co-ordinated for nefarious reasons. Slickly assembled It’s a gripping, timely and disturbing collage of corruption in the name of retaining power – and a brazen ability to wield it in plain sight.
Assassins is available on Sky Documentaries until 18th April 2021. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it live and on-demand legally on NOW TV, for £9.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial.