The Assignment

on September 26, 1997 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
Print
   The turbulent life story of the notorious Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos has been freely adapted to the screen in an occasionally intelligent but more often inept manner. Not only does the film inflate Carlos's "accomplishments," it resorts to the worst cliches and overacting in doing so.
   The film begins excitedly enough, with Carlos throwing a grenade into the midst of a crowded Parisian cafe. A moment earlier, he had begged a light and revealed himself to a CIA operative (Donald Sutherland) who goes by the name of Jack Shaw. Shaw swears revenge and finds his chance when the Israeli Mossad, led by Amos (Ben Kingsley), picks up a man they think is Carlos. He's actually a U.S. Navy man named Annibal Ramirez (Aidan Quinn), which is Carlos's last name, and he's a dead ringer for the terrorist. Amos and Shaw decide that they'll use the fake Carlos to get the real one killed.
   "The Assignment" does avoid political correctness by not equating the two sides or giving any justification for Carlos' murderous acts. Nor does it condemn the Western powers or Israel for going after Carlos in the first place. Eliminating him is simply a necessity. But if "The Assignment" shows some sophistication in its portrayal of the two sides, it's still burdened by some overblown dialogue and Sutherland's teeth-gnashing performance as the obsessive Shaw.
   Helmer Christian Duguay ("Screamers") is also not a suspense director; except for one chase scene set in Libya, he fails to juice the film. But Quinn is a standout as Annibal, who's in over his head and against his will. But the subplot of his assumed identity turning him into a brutal replica of Carlos is dealt with too late in the film to have much impact. Despite some core smarts, "The Assignment" makes the grade only as melodramatic pap. Starring Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley. Directed by Christian Duguay. Written by Dan Gordon and Sabi H. Shabtai. Produced by Tom Berry and Franco Battista. A Triumph release. Drama. Rated R for strong violence, sexuality and language. Running time: 115 min. Screened at Toronto
Tags: Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley. Directed by Christian Duguay. Written by Dan Gordon and Sabi H. Shabtai. Produced by Tom Berry and Franco Battista. A Triumph release. Drama, political, Western, Isreal, operative
Print

read all Reviews »


0 Comments

No comments were posted.

What do you think?