Sylvester Stallone in Assassins (1995)

Almost Stallone's Career Assassination

Having risen to the top of his game, professional assassin Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone) is growing tired of the killing game and is ready to retire. But before he does he needs to do a couple more jobs, one of which end up leads him to Electra (Julianne Moore) a surveillance expert who becomes his next mark. Electra is not the only person he comes across as Robert also becomes aware of Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) a new assassin who wants to be the best and it doesn't take long before Robert realises that for some reason he is being set up. Along with Electra they go on the run with Miguel hot on their trail planning to assassinate Robert in the same way Robert had assassinated his friend another assassin many years earlier.

It's sort of amusing; Sylvester Stallone has made a career for himself as an action hero, making similar movies which often get criticised for being dumb, cheesy and trading on his muscular physique. Yet in "Assassins" we have a different sort of Stallone movie, more of a standard thriller which doesn't rely on Stallone delivering those trademarks and do you know what? It feels wrong, seriously wrong. Stallone comes across as quite dull and in a movie which not only struggles to create tension it also drags on making for a less than spectacular way to spend over 2 hours.

Antonio Banderas in Assassins (1995)

The storyline to "Assassins" is in fact not a bad idea. The best assassin coming towards the end of his career finds himself being set up and tracked down by a younger assassin who wants to be number one. Nice idea and the elements which are weaved in such as surveillance specialist Electra who becomes a mark adds a nice touch. Except that the excitement of this storyline, the edge of your seat tension is lacking making it seem completely dull. It almost plods along, ocassionally pepped up by a couple of nicely crafted action sequences, before it finally finishes after nearly 2 hours of getting to the big climax, the expected face off between number one assassin Robert and Miguel.

What doesn't help is that at times writers Andy and Lana Wachowski, they of "The Matrix" fame, try to be too clever with set pieces which are followed by lack lustre twists. And when it comes to a twist which isn't lacklustre it is so contrived it's laughable. It is because of these set pieces and twists the tension is lost and it doesn't help that director Richard Donner doesn't seem sure how to handle these scenes. It makes "Assassins" an uneven, unmemorable movie which really struggles to grab your attention as it almost has a feeling of one false ending after another.

Where "Assassins" does come together is when director Richard Donner gets to deliver an action scene. Wonderfully choreographed, full of pace and style these scenes are the only things which make you sit up and pay attention. As you would expect with two assassins after one another there are some nice gun battles and stand offs, especially a memorable scene in a taxi cab which culminates with a brilliant chase scene. But even though these action scenes work they are not enough to make "Assassins" in honesty any better.

What this all boils down to is that "Assassins" is a very mixed up movie. It's trying to be an action thriller, but the thriller part of it never works and some of the action fails to come together. The performances don't really help and with Stallone trying to shed his trademarks makes it feel strangely wrong. But at over 2 hours it feels over long and seems to drag till you get the expected big climax, which in itself is drawn out.