DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE ASSIGNMENT (director: Christian Duguay; screenwriters: Sabi H. Shabtai , Dan Gordon; cinematographer: David Franco; editor: Yves Langlois; music: Normand Corbeil; cast:  Aidan Quinn (Annibal Ramirez/Carlos), Donald Sutherland (Jack Shaw/Henry Fields), Ben Kingsley (Amos),  Liliana Komorowska (Agnieska), Claudia Ferri (Maura Ramirez), Celine Bonnier (Carla), Vlasta Vrana (KGB Head Officer), Liliana  Komorowska (Agnieska); Runtime: 115; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Tom Berry, Franco Battista; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1997)

"Like for most action pics, character development is the first casualty."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Christian Duguay  ("Boot Camp"/"Coco Chanel") adequately helms a violent thriller based on the real-life terrorist Carlos, known as the Jackal. Writers Sabi H. Shabtai and Dan Gordon keep it moving with many location changes (Jerusalem, Connecticut, Canada, France, Libya, East Berlin, Moscow and many other spots) and much fireworks. But like for most action pics, character development is the first casualty.

Aidan Quinn
plays both Carlos Sanchez and the lookalike who poses as him, who happens to be a family man Naval officer named Annibal Ramirez. Donald Sutherland plays the CIA agent Jack Shaw who is obsessed with capturing Carlos. He recruits Aidan for this dangerous mission, after advised by Mossad that he would be ideal for the role because he looks like Carlos. Ben Kingsley plays the Mossad agent, who is an Israeli working with the Americans in 1986 to get the ruthless terrorist. After training the Naval man in a former prison in Montreal to act just like Carlos, they are able  to fool Carlos's enabler, the KGB, into believing he's a double-agent. With no more protection from the Soviets, Carlos's days are numbered.

Claudia Ferri plays the faithful wife of the Navy officer, who notices he has changed into this surly guy after his mysterious submarine tours. Celine Bonnier and Liliana Komorowska, play girlfriends of Carlos who the poser must convince is really Carlos.

Most of the story is fictionalized. Even though the pic is far from a great film, it nevertheless makes for compelling coverage of a fascinating subject.

REVIEWED ON 7/24/2016       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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