The reason you see so many books on ninjas in the self-help/dating sections is because they're so damn good at keeping secrets.
Everyone knows the key to success in love is communication. How can you expect to sustain a long-term relationship without being able to clearly express to your partner how much better you are than them? Is there anything more important than being able to forcefully and repeatedly remind your love how if he or she ever left you, they would have no hope of ever finding anyone as great as you again?
Ninjas can't do that, and that's why, as glamorous as all the nunchucks, masks and shadowy meetings with imperial viceroys may be, it's a royal pain to date them. Ninjas are so hopelessly secretive that even in Ninja Assassin, a movie that's about nothing but ninjas, we still come out of it knowing almost nothing about them — and wouldn't want to, given what we've just seen here.
For a 1,000 years, the ninja clans have secretly trained the world's deadliest assassins, offering their lethal services for a hundred pounds of gold. Their activities have remained hidden, but Interpol agent Naomie Harris finally has evidence of their existence.
Threatened with exposure, the ninjas come for her. Her only hope of survival lies in the protection of Rain, a rogue ninja in a one-man war against his former clan.
And I do mean "war." It's a well-known fact that, alone, a ninja is the most perfect killing machine on earth, but when they attack in packs, they better hope they can get a group rate at the local funeral home. As one against many, it should thus come as no surprise that Rain kills a lot of ninjas. He kills so many ninjas that brooding teenagers will have to dress in navy blue because of the sudden global shortage of black cloth. He kills so many ninjas we're not likely to see another ninja movie during this generation because all the available ninjas are now dead.
So Ninja Assassin is kind of violent. Director James McTeigue splashes around so much CG blood his choreographer must have been Deep Blue's cousin Bright Red. Severed arms fly across the screen like a flock of geese with watches around their necks. The fights are nothing special, but all that spattery crimson is enough to snap you out of a post-turkey torpor.
Thing is, the script is just schizophrenic. Writer J. Michael Straczynski was brought in late to brush up Matthew Sand's script, and that's precisely how it feels.
Some lines are honestly funny while others, like every single line spoken during the youthful romance that serves as the story's linchpin, are so stupid that by the time I left the theater my brain was so hammer-mashed I no longer knew the alphabet. (Fortunately, all it takes to bribe a teacher is a flat of ramen. I was back into a kindergarten class that same afternoon.)
As for the plot, if you took out all the scenes where ninjas dice each other into sashimi with throwing stars, you would be a very saddened viewer. I may have been too busy wiping blood from my eyes to notice, but it seemed as though all Rain did in the first act was stand around his apartment flexing. If this sounds like a treat, let me direct you to my very reasonably priced webcam address.
The big defense for this movie will be "Don't listen to what anyone says, it's a lot of violent fun." Well, duh it's fun! It's about ninjas killing ninjas with sweet ninja-weapons!
But with no depth to its plot, characters, or world, Ninja Assassin consistently throws away every chance it has to not suck.