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Film / True Memoirs of an International Assassin

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True Memoirs of an International Assassin is a 2016 action comedy Netflix original movie directed by Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf, Kick-Ass 2).

Sam Larson (Kevin James) is an unassuming office worker who spends his free time writing a thriller novel about a hired killer known as "The Ghost", Memoirs of an International Assassin, as a refuge from his daily grind. After completing it, he manages to get it published with an e-book company. Unfortunately, the company changes the title to True Memoirs of an International Assassin and markets it as a non-fiction book. Because of the book's massive success, Sam plays along with the deception - which comes back to bite him in the ass when a Venezuelan rebel leader kidnaps him and orders him to assassinate the country's corrupt president. Aided by an American DEA agent, Sofia Bolivár (Zulay Henao), and watched with amusement by two CIA agents (Rob Riggle and Leonard Earl Howze), Sam has to weasel his way through the conflicting plans of several powerful people or die trying.

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This film provides examples of

  • The Cameo: Katie Couric (as herself) interviews Sam twice in the movie.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: The CIA guys turn out to be the ones keeping the Venezuelan president in office and to have killed Sofia's partner to keep him from bringing charges against him.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Downplayed with Sam; early in the film it's shown he keeps fit and has legitimate MMA training as well as being a meticulous researcher with detailed knowledge of firearms and international politics. However, with no actual real world experience, his attempts to stand up for himself as people mistake him for a spy and try to kill him usually end comically badly for him, though towards the end of the movie he does make a better showing of himself in fighting.
  • Corrupt Cop: Detective Diego Garcia, who is on the take for the president and Masovich.
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  • Disproportionate Retribution: Masovich kills his servant, whom he has known since he was a child, for failing to stock up on his favorite vodka. He later kills one of his henchmen for reminding him that he killed that servant, when he asks why said servant isn't around to bring him vodka.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Venezuelan president.
  • Exact Words: Kylie stated that she did not plan to change a word of Sam's novel. She never said anything about adding one.
  • Fake Nationality: In-Universe, the Venezuelan President isn't even from Venezula. He's American, from San Diego, and hates everything about Venezuela: the people, the weather, the cartels, the food, SOCCER (“Go Padres!”), and is extremely depressed.
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: Spanish versions of "Shake it Off", "Hungry Like the Wolf", and "In the Air Tonight" are featured in the soundtrack.
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  • Finger Muzzle: Sam's novel character, The Ghost, does this to a woman he's saved. Sam later tries to do the same to Sofia, only for her to yank his hand away. Finally, Amos does this to Sam when he's about to call him The Ghost.
  • Gambit Pileup: Over the course of the movie, Sam is tasked by three different people to kill someone:
    • First, El Toro orders him to kill the Venezuelan president so he can claim power over the country.
    • Second, Masovich orders him to kill El Toro to protect his interests with the president.
    • Finally, General Ruíz orders him to kill Masovich to take away his influence over the president. He’s also plotting his own coup de tat against whoever comes out on top.
    • The two CIA guys don’t seem to have any real goal in mind other than their own amusement, though later they turn out to have a vested interest in the sitting president staying in power.
  • Heel–Face Turn: At the end, Sam convinces Juan to turn against El Toro, due to Juan living by a code of honor, while El Toro shows a complete lack of scruples, notably by hiring Sofia simply as a pretext to torture and kill her for intel that will help him take over Masovich's drug smuggling operations.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Downplayed with the main character in Sam's novel since we don't actually hear a physical description of him, but still qualifies since during Sam's imaginings of the events in the book, he's the one doing them.
  • Improbable Age: No one bothers to do the math and realize that Sam is rather young to reasonably be the Ghost (given the Ghost was active in the 80's and earlier, he'd have been a teenager if he was Sam). The real Ghost looks to be in his 60's or 70's, which is a much more probable age for an active agent from his time period.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Subverted in one scene, where Sam is working on his novel, gets stuck and starts playing around with a gun and even scratches his head with the barrel. Then he fires it across the room and it turns out to just fire foam darts. He later demonstrates it with a real gun (in defiance of ALL the rules of firearms safety) to Sofia. This winds up being Chekhov's Skill at the climax.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The CIA agents become considerably less funny when it turns out that they killed Rosa's partner to stop him from removing the Venezuelan president from power since he is under their control.
  • MacGyvering: Sam takes out some of his and Sofia's pursuers by setting a trap in their motel room that sets it on fire, having drawn inspiration from an insurance case he handled at work.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: During a fight, Sam tells this when pointing his gun at a knife-wielding hostile - who throws the knife into Sam's shoulder.
  • New Media Are Evil: Kylie Applebaum, the publisher who gets Sam's book released, is the one who spins it into a non-fiction book (though to be fair, Sam does play along with it when he finds out).
  • The Nicknamer: Sofia keeps calling Sam various nicknames.
  • Product Placement:
    • Sam and Kylie meet at a Starbucks.
    • Katie Couric interviews Sam for a Yahoo! webcast.
  • Puppet King: The Venezuelan President. Despite being the highest ranking member of his government, he is under the control of the CIA and Masovich, and clearly not happy with it.
  • Retired Badass: Amos, implied to be the real Ghost.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Masovich, a Russian gangster living in Venezuela.
  • Side Bet: Cobb and Cleveland spend the movie making escalating bets on whether or not Sam survives the ordeal he's going through. It eventually reaches a year’s pay, described as “The easiest seventeen-grand I ever made!”
  • Those Two Guys: The CIA agents, William Cobb (Riggle) and Michael Cleveland (Howze).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Venezuelan rebels, El Toro and Juan in particular. While it's unlikely that El Toro would make a much better replacement for the sitting president, Juan is more genuinely well-meaning.
  • Writer's Block: As Sam is a writer, he runs into this periodically as he tries to puzzle out the most plausible scenario for his hero to make it through. While he does that, his characters are shown just wandering around waiting for something to happen.
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