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The Assignment
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The Assignment More at IMDbPro »

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

great thriller with action, plot, characters and suspense

10/10
Author: River4Rain from Antwerp, Belgium
20 April 2003

This is probably one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. It has action, but not this bullet-flying, good guys - bad guys, van damme - stallone action, but quick, realistic and nervous action, it has a plot, cause till the very end of the movie you don't know how this is gonna end, it has characters, aidan quinn, donald sutherland and ben kingsley are just perfect, and it has suspense, this movie just won't let you go away before you've seen the end of it.

Though there are only a few characters, I didn't find it difficult to keep my attention the the story, and as for the story, it's basic (not too tom clancy-difficult, but simple and raw) and realistic.

If you're in for a movie with a good story, some action and great acting, watch this and I promise, you won't go away till you've seen the end of it. The very end of it.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A film that deserves more acclaim.

8/10
Author: davidddt from Scotland UK
5 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I will not comment on the story as such. I agree with most peoples comments that this is a good all round action movie with a well told story and good acting.

This film deserves 100% for cinematography for its opening sequence. The opening shot is stunning and I have not yet figured out how they did it. The movie is worth watching for that shot alone! A pity therefore that the DVD that is currently out is just the movie and no information is given as to the making of the film. Let's hope somebody comes up with the special edition.

And the even better thing is that the opening sequence also becomes the ending leaving you totally guessing! Great stuff. A must have for a collector of classic film moments.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant new take

9/10
Author: sparklesap from Australia
29 September 2005

If you liked the Richard Chamberlain version of the Bourne Identity then you will like this too...Aiden Quinn does this one brilliantly, you can't help but wonder if he is really out there...I reckon he and the other main cast members probably had nightmares for weeks after doing this movie as it's so intense. When I first saw it I was just flicking channels on the remote late one evening..& I got hooked within minutes. look up www.answers.com for Ilich Ramírez Sánchez who is the character that "carlos the Jackal" is based on for both... I remember reading about Ilich Ramírez Sánchez's arrest in the paper in 1997. It was front page for weeks, through the trial after his arrest.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Great spy thriller

8/10
Author: ctomvelu from usa
14 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Christian Duguay directed this tidy little espionage thriller early in his career. It plays on TV pretty regularly, albeit with some terrific scenes of violence and sex unfortunately trimmed. I finally got around to seeing the theatrical version on a $3 tape from the local video store. Naval officer Aidan Quinn is recruited to impersonate the notorious Carlos the Jackal, and gets a little too caught up in the role. Donald Sutherland Ben Kingsley play Quinn's superiors, with Sutherland a true zealot and Kingsley as the more level-headed one. The first half of this fun flick shows Quinn being trained and indoctrinated. The second half has him out in the field, making love to the Jackal's woman and shooting it out with sundry enemies. The idea is to make the Jackal look like a turncoat to the Russians, and let them take care of the world's most notorious assassin. Things don't exactly play out as planned. At times, I almost expected the cast to break out laughing at some of the corny dialogue, but they all play it very straight. In the end, this is one terrific little thriller that deserves your attention. The Jackal's former mistress teaching the highly proper and very married Quinn to rough her up, lick blood from her face, and then go down on her, alone is worth the price of admission.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Smart, Sophisticated Action/Thriller

9/10
Author: Ben Stock (stockbr@fcmail.com) from Wantirna, Australia
18 January 1999

I loved this film. It was so intelligent but it also had some great action sequences, without basing the movie solely around them. Quinn, Sutherland and Kingsley all put in fantastic performances and there are enough twists to keep anyone interested. The ending was great as well.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The TRUE Bourne Identity!

10/10
Author: cableaddict from United States
2 August 2004

2002's the Bourne Identity is one of my all-time favorite movies. however, many fans of the book have complained that the movie had very little to do with the book's plot.

The Assignment is the real deal. It's odd that no-one on the "Bourne Identity" threads has mentioned this movie at all. (Well, I jst did.)

Besides the excellent plot, I personally found this movie to be as good as any espionage movie I've ever seen, with the possible exception of The Bourne

Identity itself.

The action is all completely realistic. I especially liked the protagonists' training regimen, which was very inventive.

The feel is dark and gritty. There are a few surprising plot twists. The acting is excellent.

If you like this genre, I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Good movie - better than The Jackal!

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
25 September 2001

The Assignment is a solid thriller which is comparable with The Jackal in terms of story. However it is a much better film than it's big budget brother with better story and a more compelling sense of tension (and you don't have to put up with Richard Gere's wandering Irish accent).

Aidan Quinn is good in twin roles of Carlos and Ramirez, in particular portraying the way Ramirez changes during his training. Sutherland is as good as always - but in some scenes still has an element of hamminess about him, Kingsley is good but underused.

The story is more believable than The Jackal (if you can get past the fact that Carlos has an exact double!) with plot to get Carlos being more intelligence and espionage based than the gunplay solution of The Jackal. Indeed the story is what makes this film so interesting. There are only a few action scenes in the film but again are all tense, the scenes of terrorist attack are frightening but tend to linger of shots of extras with bad blood makeup (some horrors are more terrible if left to the viewers' imagination).

Overall, a tight little thriller that makes up in plot and acting what it lacks in star-power and budget.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Holds the Attention

Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
31 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS.

Aidan Quinn is an upright naval officer recruited by CIA man Donald Sutherland and ex-Mossad agent Ben Kingsley to pose as Carlos (the Jackal) because, after all, Quinn is an exact duplicate of Carlos. The general idea is to train Quinn the naval officer to think and act like Carlos the jackal. Then, pretending to be Carlos, Quinn will be seen by observers talking to the CIA. The KGB, who have been associated with Carlos, cannot allow such goings on and will assassinate the real Carlos to prevent him from revealing KGB secrets. Simple enough. Also, as plausible as some cheap mechanical device advertised on TV as giving you "iron-hard abs" in no time at all.

Of course, things don't go as planned. If they did, this would be a routine spy thriller and you could shoehorn Sylvester Stallone or Steven Seagal into the Quinn part. A reluctant and doubtful Quinn is trained in Montreal. Taken to Israel and given further training, including a lesson in how Carlos makes love to the women he uses. Then he arranges to meet his Carlos' girl in Beirut, this time actually playing Carlos for keeps. But the girl, thinking he is the real Carlos, has sold him out to the French and they try to knock him off. They fail, and in the process, they lose four of their men to Quinn. Quinn shoots one of them in the forehead to save himself and it doesn't make him feel particularly good to have this guy's brains splattered on his face because, after all, the French are trying to kill Carlos, which is what we are trying to fake the KGB into doing anyway. And the French are our allies -- or they were until recently, when we started pouring their wine into our gutters.

In a public place, poor Quinn is taken for the real Carlos by one of Carlos' henchmen -- but Quinn doesn't know the password. He doesn't even know there IS a password. He is saved from assassination by Carlos' forces by Ben Kingsley, at the expense of Kingsley's life.

Then it gets a little more interesting. The operation is called off by the CIA and a grateful Quinn returns home to his loving wife and little kiddy. But he's changed. Now he makes rough love to his wife and explodes with anger at unexpected moments -- just as Carlos would have done.

Sutherland visits him to tell him the caper is back on but Quinn is unwilling to go back to being Carlos, what with all those nasty habits. Sutherland tells him: "Listen, I don't have a family. I don't have any friends. The only people I've ever really cared about were the people I killed -- and you. I CREATED you." Quinn: "You didn't create me. You infected me with your poison." So, to bring Quinn back in, Sutherland threatens to have it booted about that Quinn is Carlos' double and someone, somewhere, somehow, sometime, will eliminate Quinn and the rest of his family. (This is known as "dirty pool.")

In the end, the plot works -- more or less. Quinn and his family wind up safe and suntanned, but I won't get into the somewhat convoluted ending.

Genre conventions aside -- oh, by "genre conventions" I refer to shootouts, falling bodies in slow motion, cars tumbling end over end, somebody falling onto a power line and disappearing in a fireworks display -- that sort of thing. Two people are going at it mano a mano and one of them bangs his forehead against his opponent's forehead, disabling the opponent and ignoring one of Newton's laws of motion. But genre conventions aside, the movie deals with an interesting problem. Well all occupy different roles at different times, don't we? We may be a spouse, a parent, an employee, an employer, a checker player, a stamp collector, a taxpayer, a member of the junior chamber of commerce, although I hope not, and so forth -- but not all at the same time. We occupy these roles one at a time, depending on circumstances. The anthropologist Ralph Linton distinguished between "active status", the one we occupy at the moment, and "latent statuses," those others we are capable of playing but for the moment have stashed away for use at some other time. During his respite, Quinn is having problems firming up his active status as the nice-guy naval officer, and suppressing his latent status as Carlos the sadistic maniac. This causes him and those around him considerable distress on the Little League Ballfield. We all have problems activating the proper role at some time or other, but the problems seldom reach the magnitude of Quinn's.

The acting is pretty good. I've always kind of like Quinn. He's not a bravura performer but he looks okay -- handsome, but not too handsome, if you know what I mean. His wife does well in a relatively small part, too, as well as anyone else in the flick. Ben Kingsley is great as an Israeli agent, waving his arms and speaking in Hebrew-tinted aphorisms. Donald Sutherland as CIA agent Jack Shaw should have been named Jack Epictetus. Every time something goes wrong, he shrugs it off in the most stoic of manners. "Well, the guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time," or whatever. He gives the juiciest performance too, a not-entirely morally upright kind of guy, though nominally on the right side. He's positively gleeful when our French allies attack Quinn and get murdered instead. Nothing is more likely to convince the KGB that our phony is for real than a failed attack by the French that leaves bodies behind.

The score is unremarkable. The production makes excellent use of location shooting. What passes for Beirut looks as if it ought to be Beirut. The weakest part of the movie is its script. The writers don't show much in the way of imagination. The dialogue has its good moments ("The only people I ever really cared about were the people I killed"), but is more often trite ("You didn't create me. You infected me with your poison"). The movie is above average for the genre, but it could have been better than that if the script had been spruced up. There are too many lines like, "I don't know who you are anymore." Ho hum.

But its weaknesses shouldn't be enough to keep one from watching this film which, after its expository opening, has the tension of a coiled spring.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The REAL Bourne Identity!

Author: bluefox808 from Honolulu, Hawaii
17 August 2002

Who is Jason Bourne? It's very likely his real name was Annibal Ramirez.

This is my favorite terrorist thriller of all time. "The Assignment" had the essential plot of "The Bourne Identity" (the book by Robert Ludlum, not the movie starring Matt Damon) and the themes "Face/Off" only touched on.

THE PROS:

THE SCRIPT--this movie was co-written by a former agent with the Israeli Mossad (Israel's version of the CIA), so "The Assignment" had an aura of realism that most Hollywood thrillers lack. This movie showed a dark world of twisted intrigue most of us knows exists but never see. I admit, the look-alike premise was contrived. But the plan to get Carlos was old-school counter-espionage at its best.

THE ACTING--this movie was well-acted all-around. Aidan Quinn was great, both as the tortured hero and the badass villain. Donald Sutherland was also top-notch as the CIA agent obsessed with catching Carlos the Jackal. Ben Kingsley shines as always, this time as an utterly cool, professional Mossad agent.

THE DIRECTING--very well-shot, with interesting camera angles that enhanced the story, not just used to show off the director's talent. Good use of locations. I really felt like I had been to Europe and the Middle East.

THE OPENING SEQUENCE--easily one of the most attention-grabbing opening sequences I've seen in a long time. There's a dazzling sustained steadicam shot, then a scene of such brutal terrorism it's easy to see why CIA agent Jack Shaw becomes bent on destroying Carlos the Jackal.

THE TRAINING SCENES--I've seen tons of action movies. This was one of rare few that took the time to explain in a compelling way how the good guy learns the skills he uses to beat the bad guy. These scenes were already plenty tense, but the psychological angle of going into the mind of a terrorist took it to the next level. I also recommend watching this movie, then watching "The Bourne Identity" starring Matt Damon. The training scenes in "The Assignment" explain how Jason Bourne probably learned to be an assassin.

THE ACTION SCENES--they were all fantastic, real yet stylish at the same time. However, don't expect another "Face/Off" or "The Rock." Unlike most Hollywood blockbusters, "The Assignment" is driven by intelligence and suspense, not spectacular set pieces. But even if the action scenes sucked (which they don't) they would still be gripping because of the engrossing story.

THE THEMES--the themes made this, already a good movie, a great one. "The Assignment" deals with identity, integrity (how bad are you willing to be to do the right thing?), and of how evil infects everything it touches.

THE CONS:

THE CLIMAX--this was what disappointed me the most. After taking all that time to carefully build up the hero and villain, their final confrontation felt too rushed and too predictable.

CARLOS THE JACKAL--he didn't get enough screen time! He was so cool and badass, I wanted to see more!

THE SEXUAL CONTENT--actually I thought this was a good thing, because that damnable PG-13 rating makes it seem like people in movies don't have sex. Just so they can pack more teenagers into theaters. "The Assignment" contains a good share of sex scenes, the most intense being the one Annibal had with an ex-girlfriend of the Jackal. All purely to advance his training, of course. That actress was dynamite!

OVERALL: "The Assignment" is a first-class thriller the likes of which we won't see again very soon. Too bad it was overshadowed by bigger-budgeted, lower-quality terrorist flicks like "The Peacemaker" and "The Jackal."

SCORE: 9.0 out of 10

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

" Just close your eyes, think of England and make love to her "

9/10
Author: thinker1691 from USA
8 March 2010

Throughout the world the unmistakable imprint of the American C.I.A. can be found in many a muddled mess they have left behind. In the beginning, their objectives were simple: spy, remove enemy agents, steal classified information and destabilize unfavorable governments. Years have elapse and although their mission remains similar, their clandestine black operations now include domestic spying, discrediting U.S. citizens and infiltrating American organizations who criticize the U.S. government. This movie however, centers on the C.I.A.'s world manhunt for the infamous 'Carlos, the Jackel.' The film is called " The Assignment " and tells the story Lt. Cmdr. Annibal Ramirez, (Aidan Quinn) a U.S. naval officer who bears a striking resemblance to the mastermind of so many terrorist bombings. Recruited by Jack Shaw (Donald Sutherland) of the C.I.A. and Amos (Ben Kingsley), a special agent from the Israeli Mosad, Ramirez is secretly trained to look, pose, infiltrate the elusive organization and to thereafter discredit the real Jackel working for the Russians. This film is Explosively exciting, and packed with wild chases, killings and inter-country mayhem. Quinn is wonderful and surprisingly artistic playing both sides of the war. Easily one of his best efforts. ****

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