Life is still as hard as ever for an assassin trying to make it in today’s economy with a decent part-time job. Such was the case in 2021’s Baby Assassins for endearing killer roomies Chisato (Akari Takaishi) and Mahiro (Saori Izawa) as the two stood toe-to-toe with heavily-armed yakuza gangsters with daily responsibilties to fulfill in between. Two years later, the oddball duo is still “killing it” while trying to get the hang of adulting in writer/director Yugo Sakamoto’s latest sequel, Baby Assassins: 2 Babies.
Caught between trying to beat the clock on long-overdue bills while abiding by their assassin guild’s strict policies and dealing with life’s inevitable incidences, Chisato and Mahiro find themselves suspended from the guild and right back at square one, with no choice but to pound the pavement for work. In the interim, little do they know that they have become the targets of Makoto (Tatsuomi Hamada) and Yuri (Joey Iwanaga), two of the guild up-and-comers who are both struggling to up their stations in life, and are presented with the chance to do so thanks to their newest assignment.
Baby Assassins: 2 Babies doesn’t put in a lot of effort toward world-building after the first movie. Things are already set in motion – a story with a pair of assassins at the forefront with only mere mentions of a guild and a small raft of supporting characters to serve as the backdrop of that world. The progression comes across as more myopic as we follow our characters through their daily endeavors, and so the dialogue meanders through a raft of filler topics to keep the story going.
For that matter, those who enjoyed the inaugural assassin comedy a few years ago will get plenty out of its next chapter. All of the surviving key characters return to lead the charge, as does the comforting screen chemistry shared between our two leads. Their personalities are still opposites of each others, which leaves plenty of room for the requisite laughs and minor character growth that ensues.
The acting and performances by our cast are authentic and comforting enough that some of the dialogue feels ad-libbed at times, which is indicative of how well the actors and director gel with one another. Whether the conversation is about clothing brands, movies, how to deal with romantic crushes, or the prices and types of rice balls amid crackpot comparative discussions about people who either show their tongues or don’t, the cast brings total energy and enthusiasm to the table in bringing Sakamoto’s vision to life.
Seeing Takaishi and Izawa on screen is a welcome return to familiar territory for those who enjoyed the first movie – or even Sakamoto’s prior film, A Janitor; Takaishi’s Chisato is still as pepped-up and animated as she was in Baby Assassins, and Izawa’s Mahiro is still a work in progress when it comes to her social anxiety. Both characters are still so awkward with other people as well, and that’s where the hilarity kicks in. When it comes down to their skillset, there’s a tightness to their teamwork and we get a good dose of that in one of the film’s earlier sequences. We also get the return of Tsubasa Tobinaga who plays their affable albeit austete manager, Susano, as well as Atomu Mizuishi’s reprisal of Takasa, one of the guild’s “cleaners,” as well as the addition of Tomo Nakai as Takasa’s assistant, Mana.
Actors Hamada and Iwanaga make a noteworthy pair to balance things out opposite Takaishi and Izawa for their limited time together on screen. They share an equally fitting bond that matches that of our stars’ which holds up in its own weight whilst taking nothing away from the story, and are par for the course leading up to their inevitable clashes in the second half of the film.
There’s an applied evolution in the action as well, coordinated by Kensuke Sonomura whose other feats in recent memory can be seen in 2019’s Hydra and this year’s Bad City when he’s not collaborating with other filmmakers. There aren’t a whole ton of action scenes in the film either, which is no big concern given how well the drama and comedy contribute to the film’s foundation. Needless to say when the action finally does kick in, it does not disappoint. The action is as fast, frenzied and upbeat as fans can expect with strong cinematography to buttress it all, joined in part by Supa Love’s music score.
The choreography is done with an extempore feel at times like in the first action scene when Makoto and Yuri raid a gangster’s hideout. Other moments have a more rhythmic and definitive timbre that leave off with a few honorary nods in the action and dialogue, including an action sequence in a bank, and another midway in the film between Chisato and Mahiro after a brief exchange homaging Captain America: Civil War. The main send-off goes to Izawa and Iwanaga, both specialists in martial arts and screen fighting to package the film’s exciting fight finale which sort of pulls a note or two from Eric Jacobus’ Death Grip.
Barring a midway cameo by international girl group sensation, Atarashi Gakko, Baby Assassins: 2 Babies is an action sequel that’s strictly intended for its target niche. At a little over 100 minutes in and co-signed with an extenuating post-credits scene, Sakamoto’s sequel is right in its comfort zone, and time will tell if a third – should one be on the way – would be so bold as to step outside of it.
Screened for Fantastic Fest.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.