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Baby Assassins Review: Hired Killers Come of Age

The two main characters stand in front of a yellow background in the poster for the film Baby Assassins (2021)

Baby Assassins (2021) follows two flatmates looking for part-time work, and a crime family looking to expand their business. Oh, and the flatmates are hitwomen.

The title of Baby Assassins (2021) supposedly refers to its two main characters: two young, working hitwomen. One, named Mahiro (Saori Izawa), is mumbling and perpetually exhausted, the other, named Chisato (Akari Takaishi), is louder and frequently excited. Despite their differences, however, Mahiro and Chisato are not a reluctant pair. They’re friends – maybe even best friends – and Baby Assassins does well at presenting this outside of much doubt. 

Mahiro and Chisato, having recently graduated from high-school, are currently on the search for part-time jobs to complement their primary income of blood money. This has been encouraged by their supervisor at the assassination company, who wants the two to become functioning members of adult society – to pay utility bills, to keep records for the tax office, and all that malarkey. 

Based on this setup, Baby Assassins plays out like a particularly well-flowing sketch movie, with episodes often occurring more for the sake of a laugh and some character, rather than to progress any serious narrative: a gun magazine left in a pocket that’s now in the washing machine, interacting with a particularly talkative crime scene clean-up guy, and Chisato’s realisation that being an assassin is easier than working in a kitchen, for example. All of this being, I ought to say, something I was well up for. 

But, if you are wondering, it’s really the Mahiro and Chisato characters that push Baby Assassins an inch above all of its sheeny, tongue-in-cheek, assassin-focussed contemporaries. It’s perhaps even down to the simple distinction that these two are absent-minded flatmates first, and assassins second – rather than being assassins first and single mothers second, or assassins first and widowers who like dogs second, for instance. 

A man stands behind a girl holding a gun and wearing a pink jacket in the film Baby Assassins (2021)
Baby Assassins (2021) (Well Go USA)

Really, Baby Assassins is a bit like if Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle [4 aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle] (1987) was refigured into a hangout movie for contemporary school-leavers, and, luckily, despite the inevitable Yakuza plotline, Baby Assassins does give sufficient time to that kind of central friendship. I know, Rohmer probably isn’t the best frame of reference here, but it’s what I’ve got. When I see two Japanese hitwomen living together, Reinette and Mirabelle, and One Sings, the Other Doesn’t [L’une chante, l’autre pas] (1977), are brought to my mind. Perhaps I need to widen my frame of reference and watch some more movies (what a shame that would be), but, before you leave with a snort, please let me conclude with at least an attempt to justify the comparison. 

Here we are: the French movies mentioned feature naturally-occuring female friendships, the support of which are immune to distance, and to differences in inherent qualities, and the strength of Baby Assassins lies in similar territory. Sure, One Sings, the Other Doesn’t offers a bittersweet, ultimately charming realism, but Baby Assassins also offers a comfort in its own self-aware hyperreality. As I’ve mentioned, the raison d’être for Baby Assassins is seen in Mahiro and Chisato: wearing their personalities on their sleeves, navigating a movie that’s desensitised to violence, a movie that’s seen more movies than I have, but a movie that is ultimately a comedy, fit for the sleepover and pyjama-day alike. 

Get it on Apple TV

Baby Assassins (2021) is now available to watch on digital and on demand. The sequel, Baby Assassins 2, was released on Blu-ray™ and Digital on April 2, 2024. Read our review of Baby Assassins 2.

Baby Assassins 2 Babies Review: A Perfect Sequel – Loud and Clear
Baby Assassins: 2 Babies introduces new characters, new adult responsibilities, more reasons to laugh, and is all the better for it.

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