Here’s a straight-up mob moll hides out with a hitman thriller, with a few Latin American twists.
“En Brazos de un Asesino” (In the Arms of an Assassin) is a Dominican production, set in Mexico, about a young woman, Sarai (Alicia Sanz of “Billionaire Boys’ Club”) held as a sex slave by a drug lord. When a hired assassin (William Levy, who produced and co-wrote this) shows up to be paid for his next assignment, Sarai sees her chance and escapes from the clutches of Javier (Roberto Sosa).
Javier, of course, wants her back. She’s his “favorite,” we hear. Even though the killer insists, in smoldering Spanish (with English subtitles) that “Interfering is not my business,” she demands that he “Take me to the border.” As if that snub nose .38 she’s holding on him will see to that.
What follows is a pursuit and a series of bust-ups and shoot-outs as the bad guy (the assassin) kills legions of badder guys, all to keep this woman he seems to regard as “a bargaining chip…a guarantee” alive and out of the clutches of the gang.
Simple, right? It’s every “Transporter” movie, and a whole lot of “hitman” romances, including TV’s “Good Behavior” from a couple of years ago. How can you screw that up?
Well, one way is to treat this as the potential franchise debut (it’s from the first in a series of novels) it is, and slow-dance past the climax — which arrives just over an hour into the picture.
Everything that follows, more violence, sex scenes, intrigues, villas and private jets and even a sexed-up “Eyes Wide Shut” sex party for the rich — is just 33 minutes of anti-climax.
The trick to launching a franchise is to make the first movie so good that it leaves open the possibility. The fights here are crisply rehearsed, staged, shot and edited. The hero is a rock-hard-abs hunk, and the heroine sexy and fiesty.
There’s nothing original much to this, no surprises. The villain’s violent sexpot sister (never ID’d by name, so I have no idea who she is in the credits) is a hissable monster, and Sosa makes a fine heavy. It’s just that “En Brazos” is never anything more than servicable hit-man/romance filler.
The film’s forward motion comes to a halt with that climax, and nothing afterwards gets it back up on its feet.
Matías Moltrasio made his feature directing debut with this, but blaming the misfire on a “rookie mistake” doesn’t take into account what the producers wanted out of this, the film’s real shortcomings.
Maybe we’ll see more from this “Killing Sarai” series. If not, “En Brazos de un Asesino” is stark proof of why that didn’t happen.
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, sexual content and nudity
Credits: Directed by Matías Moltrasio, script by Jeff Goldberg and William Levy, based on a novel by J.A. Remdenski. A Pantelion/Lionsgate release.
Running time: 1:41