Assassin Robert Rath arrives at a funeral to kill a prominent mobster, only to witness a rival hired gun complete the job for him -- with grisly results. Horrified by the murder of innocent bystanders, Rath decides to take one last job and then return to civilian life. But finding his way out of the world of contract killing grows ever more dangerous as Rath falls for his female target and becomes a marked man himself.
Check Mate? Sly Stallone stars as an ageing assassin who gets embroiled in a cat and mouse game with a younger assassin who wants to be number one of the trade. Teaming up with a computer hacker, Stallone battles not only his pursuer but also an event from his past that troubles him so. With Antonio Banderas and Julianne Moore in starry support, Richard Donner in the director's chair and the Wachowski brothers on writing duties, Assassins held the promise of a top line actioner. Sadly that promise is not met. There's clear signs of the makers trying to make something more deep and cerebral, what ultimately transpires is a overly complicated - and way over long - picture. Punctured with great action scenes, none more so than an outrageous taxi ride that John Woo would be proud of, it's in the middle section where pic drags itself into needless slumber. By this mid-point, one has had enough of Banderas, who comes off more like a deranged excitable kid than someone to be feared. Donner really falters there, but conversely he gets an interestingly engaging tune out of Stallone. Moore is very good, and gets some good dialogue to spout, which is a rarity, though, since much of the chatter is mumbled or said in such agitated or broody manner that the sound mix strains for aural clarification. It's not a stinker, and in its own way it's a diverting time waster, but too many holes and too many poor production desicions leave it knocking at the averageville door. 5/10
A not great movie, but one that it's hard to pinpoint exact ways in which it could easily have been improved. A Stallone/Banderas as cat and mouse assassins sounds promising, but in reality this technoir thriller is... Actually kind of boring. Seems like it needs a ground-up re-working to get a story up to the concept of that team, which sounds exhausting. _Final rating:★★ - Had some things that appeal to me, but a poor finished product._