US, 1995, 132 minutes, Colour.
Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore.
Directed by Richard Donner.
Assassins: reviewers had mixed feelings about Sylvester Stallone's mid-90s movies, especially The Specialist in which he has a not dissimilar role and Judge Dredd. But this is a rather more intelligent and pacy thriller. Better written (The Wachowski Brothers - Bound, Matrix - and Brian Helgeland - LA Confidential, The Knight's Tale) and better directed (by Richard Donner, the Lethal Weapon movies), it shows us the top US Cold War assassin who wants out (Stallone acting with more reticence though no less athletic) and the brash new killer who wants to be number one (Antonio Banderas). Julianne Moore is a stronger female lead than usual. There is very little original about it (compare it with Irwin Winkler's The Net), but, as thrillers about contracts and marks with chases and suspense go, this is quite good.
1. Interesting and entertaining action adventure? Portrait of characters? Characters in a technological age, technological espionage and robbery? Assassins in technological warfare?
2. The locations: the affluent American cities, Miami and the hotel for the beginning and for the climax? The background of technology? The special effects? The score?
3. The title and its focus, audience reaction to a film about killers? The cast and the expectations of a Sylvester Stallone action drama?
4. The impact of the prologue, the Florida setting? Rath and his waiting, the confrontation with Nikolai, his death? Black and white photography? Time, pacing, the clock? The reprise at the end of the film? The parallel with Miguel Bain? The building, the surveillance, the heat, the passing of time, the clock? The exact parallels, the contrasts? The superiority of each assassin? The truth about Nikolai and his control? The final decisions and killings? Survival?
5. Sylvester Stallone as Rath, seeing him at work, the computer contacts and information, impersonal? The messages and the attempt at the personal communication? The job at the funeral? Rath's skills? The intrusion of Bain? Rath unable to fulfil his mission? The confrontation, the battle, the taxi pursuit, the identifying of Bain? The communication with the contact and the contact playing one against the other?
6. The second set-up, the Dutchman arriving at the hotel, the industrial espionage and the stealing of software? Rath and his skill at surveillance? Bain and his presence and wanting to do better than Rath?
7. The picture of Electra, in herself, isolated, her cat? Apartment? Her computer skills? The contact with the Dutchman? The bargaining? The sale? Her underestimating the danger? The guns, the death of the Dutchman, deleting the material on the disk? Her escape?
8. Rath and Bain and his tracking of Electra? Rath and his trying to protect her, save the information, solve the puzzle about the contact? Going to the apartment, the search? Bain stalking Electra, invading the apartment - and the brutality of the death of the tenants? The explosion and Bain's escape?
9. Electra and her disks, her cat, the deals, the explosions, the traps?
10. The transition to the Caribbean bank, the set-up? Rath and his control, his plan? Bain and his arrival, the heat, uncertainty, the waiting? The parallels with the past? The surveillance? Bain getting impatient? Electra and her program, her fall? The hotel, the gun and its loss? The arrival of Nikolai, the understanding of the truth? The final shoot-out and Rath's survival?
11. Contemporary themes? Action? The justice of assassins and their victims? The law? Symbols of a violent and lawless world?