You could make any number of mild complaints about the latest Charles Bronson thriller, "Assassination" (citywide).
You might grouse, for example, that the love-on-the-run storyline--terrorist hit squads pursuing a White House Secret Service agent and the nation's First Lady--is so absurd that the movie becomes instant camp after half an hour. You might grumble about some of the line readings, which suggest the bright, brittle tones of TV Vegematic commercials.
You could complain, in fact, about almost everything but Bronson's performance. As the slightly gone-to-seed but battle-hardened agent Jay Killian, he remains, as always, cool, adroitly understated, the very picture of no-nonsense professionalism. Bronson clips off his lines with the battle-weary disgust of a tough-shell veteran. He strikes the right sparks with his wife and co-star Jill Ireland (cast, flabbergastingly, as First Lady Laramie Craig--or, as she's usually called here, "One Mama").
The plot--adapted by Richard Sale from his novel, "My Affair With the President's Wife"--is, to put it mildly, weird. Consider the razor-sharp perceptions of Ireland's "One Mama": Even after a motorcycle blows up near her motorcade and her yacht explodes as she prepares to board it, she refuses to believe anything is afoot but misfortune and coincidence. (Two terrorists with flame throwers who shoot down a helicopter finally convince her.) The movie is obviously intended as tongue-in-cheek, but, after a while, a tongue of leather seems to be scraping against cheeks of iron.