Sherilyn Fenn is implausibly cast as an FBI agent caught in a web of intrigue and betrayal in THE ASSASSINATION FILE, a made-for-cable conspiracy thriller that compounds its shoddiness by blatantly stealing from a number of much better movies.
After failing to prevent the assassination of black Presidential candidate Senator Alan Laskey (Paul Winfield), Secret Service agent Lauren Jacobs (Sherilyn Fenn) resigns in disgrace. Two years later, she's an art teacher living with a man named Jack (Tom Verica), who knows nothing of her past,
when she's visited by her former partner Scott McDonough (Diedrich Bader). He gives her a file that contains evidence that the killing might not have been committed by the lone assassin who was killed by the FBI while trying to escape. McDonough is later executed and Jacobs barely eludes the
killers herself. When Jacobs contacts her former colleagues, agents Young (Dan Butler) and Cochran (Kevin Corrigan), several attempts are made to kill her, and she flees.
After learning about Jacobs's past, Jack tracks her down and helps her prevent another attempt on her life. Using McDonough's evidence, Jacobs uncovers a videotape of an outdoor wedding party that took place near the hotel where Laskey was assassinated. After digital enhancement, the tape reveals
that the real killer got into a waiting boat and another body was then pushed into the river to make it look like he was the killer. Jacobs gives the tape to Sen. Laskey's son, who shows it to the Attorney General. At a hotel where the Attorney General is holding a press conference to announce the
reopening of the investigation, Jacobs meets with agent Young and tells him about the tape. Young pulls a gun on her and reveals that he and Cochran were behind the assassination. Jacobs shoots Young and gets away, and with Jack's help, prevents a bomb from killing Laskey's son and the Attorney
THE ASSASSINATION FILE is a nonstop compendium of cliched dialogue and formulaic thriller situations, including the requisite computer hacking scene--where Jacobs easily gets into the FBI database and uncovers top-secret information. It also maladroitly combines elements from IN THE LINE OF FIRE
(1993), THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975), LA FEMME NIKITA (1990), and even THE CONVERSATION (1974), plagiarizing this last film's famous opening park-surveillance scene, right down to the distorted voices and the intrusive mime. As for the "mystery" plot, it's riddled with holes, and the identities
of the conspirators are obvious from the start. With her slight stature and squeaky voice, Sherilyn Fenn is never once believable as an FBI agent, and her character is constantly freaking out over every dangerous situation. The rest of the cast are mostly familiar TV sitcom faces, and their
performances are up (or down) to the level of their erstwhile medium. The film is nothing more than an R-rated TV movie, and the only area in which the writer and director use any imagination at all is their use of gratuitous nudity: making Jacobs an art teacher so we get glimpses of a nude
sketching class, and even better, having Jacobs take the secret videotape to an editing facility that specializes in porno films. (Profanity, violence, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: R
- Review: Sherilyn Fenn is implausibly cast as an FBI agent caught in a web of intrigue and betrayal in THE ASSASSINATION FILE, a made-for-cable conspiracy thriller that compounds its shoddiness by blatantly stealing from a number of much better movies. After faili… (more)