Baby Assassins 2: Babies


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Baby Assassins 2: Babies
"Sakamoto manages to keep this light and charming even when people are bleeding, struggling to breathe or actually dying in the dirt." | Photo: Glasgow Film Festival

Yugo Sakamoto’s Baby Assassins, which screened at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2022, told the story of two highly skilled but nevertheless adorable young assassins whose lives fall apart when their agency forces them to share a flat. The moment that we see Chisato (Akari Takaishi) and Mahiro (Saori Izawa) again in this film, which screened as part of the 2024 festival, it’s obvious that the bond they formed back then has really blossomed. They are living in a gloriously untidy, candy-coloured paradise whose tables are piled high with sweets and desserts in which they indulge at every opportunity – but they’re still in good shape, of course, because they still work as contract killers.

They need to. Outside of their work, their disorganisation extends beyond the domestic sphere. An unpaid gym membership results in massive penalties from accrued fines and interest, landing them in hot water, and things only get worse from there. But there’s a bigger problem. Another young pair of assassins, Makoto (Tatsuomi Hamada) and Yuri (Joey Iwanaga) are in trouble for messing up an assignment, and decide to try to prove their mettle and get back on the top assignments list by taking out our heroines.

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With the stage set for a spectacular showdown, the film happily meanders around until it gets there, no weaker for an approach that is, after all, congruent with its protagonists’ lifestyle. Suspended by their agency after making themselves a bit too visible in public, Chisato and Mahiro get odd jobs to make ends meet, with predictably comic results. A fight they engage in whilst wearing giant plush mascot costumes is a particular highlight. Meanwhile, Makoto and Yuri stalk them, not very effectively, getting distracted along the way by cute waitresses and all manner of other things. There’s a subplot involving the clean-up team and a sweet hint of office romance.

Like its predecessor, the film has a lot to say about the state of the Japanese labour market and the way it exploits young workers. The characters themselves take it all in their stride, accepting it as the way of the world; there is never even a suggestion of going against the boss. Though they sulk from time to time when life goes against them, they always get back on their feet, inspired by the joys of friendship and a simple love of what they do for a living. Sakamoto manages to keep this light and charming even when people are bleeding, struggling to breathe or actually dying in the dirt.

As before, the fight scenes are spectacular, with all of the young stars acquitting themselves well. Takaishi is particularly impressive, bouncing around as if made out of springs and making even the most complicated moves look easy. The action is never overly slick, however, and the actors are good enough to show us pain even when their characters are too cool to acknowledge it. Sakamoto concentrates on doing simple things well and making inventive use of places and objects rather than trying to pull off over-the-top stunts of the sort that lack believability even when done for real. The result is much more satisfying to watch, and keeps us aware, throughout, of what it all means for people we have come to care about.

Cute as a button yet fresh and entertaining throughout, This is a great little film which you can enjoy whether or not you’ve seen the original, but it’s probably not the right choice for a work night out.

Reviewed on: 06 Mar 2024
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Baby Assassins 2: Babies packshot
The kick-ass assassins with slacker tendencies are back.

Director: Yugo Sakamoto

Writer: Yugo Sakamoto

Starring: Akari Takaishi, Saori Izawa, Oto Abe, Tatsuomi Hamada, Junpei Hashino, Joey Iwanaga, Atom Mizuishi, Tsubasa Tobinaga, Nakai Tomo, Tetsu Watanabe

Year: 2023

Runtime: 101 minutes

Country: Japan

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