Donald Sutherland and Christian Slater in "Assassin's Bullet." (ARC Entertainment )
It's perhaps something of a triumph that after years of standing in for every other place in the world, Bulgaria gets to play Bulgaria in the low-budget, Sofia-set thriller "Assassin's Bullet." What goes unrecognizable, however, is the entertainment value in this dippy hodgepodge of hitman action, illogical romance and geopolitical commentary.
Christian Slater plays a U.S. embassy envoy tasked by the American ambassador (Donald Sutherland) to investigate a series of vigilante killings of high-value terrorists. We also get to know a blond Bulgarian schoolteacher at the embassy named Vicki (a hardworking but expression-free Elika Portnoy, credited with the story).
Scarred by the memory of her terrorist-murdered parents when she was a child, Vicki has mysterious blackouts that aren't that difficult to solve once we're introduced to a suspiciously similar-looking, red-ringleted belly dancer who flirts with Slater, and a sunglasses-sporting woman running around in black leather.
Director Isaac Florentine has a restless style, but hearing a "whoosh" with every quick camera pan is a tacit acknowledgment that something besides the script and acting is needed to keep viewers engaged. Extended belly dancing sequences and repeated flashbacks are also on the list of distraction tactics.
"Assassin's Bullet" is strictly '90s-era pay-cable genre-rip-off nostalgia, ripe for ridicule.
"Assassin's Bullet." MPAA rating: R for violence. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.