Most helpful critical review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Slow-moving, flawed, but still compelling and entertaining escapism.
on November 23, 2009
I was interested to see the Wachowski brothers listed as writers for this film, which I would not have associated with their larger-than-life, over the top style. This is a slow-boiler of a film. Yes, there is enough action to go around, and plenty of "silenced" shootings, but the film *feels* slow nonetheless. Stallone is as competent as he gets in movies of this type (his performance is nearly identical to his portrayal of a bomb expert in The Specialist, which was released the year before Assassins), moving stolidly through the movie at a measured clip. Julianne Moore is interesting, if a bit under-utilized, though there is no real chemistry between the two (and none is required). Antagonist Miguel Bain, overacted rabidly by Antonio Banderas, sweats and twitches and exclaims his way through his scenes as if his life depends on it, and while he's fun, one grows a little tired of watching him. It's as if there's no "off" switch on Antonio this time out; one wonders if the actor himself got tired of the shaking, perspiring, gun-toting "kid" he was already a little too old to be playing.
The movie leaves many plot holes unaddressed -- holes that perhaps needn't be addressed simply because they exist from the movie's first moments. Who is Robert Rath? How did he get his training at the hands of his Russian mentor? How did they meet? How did Rath get hooked up with his contractor in the first place, as they communicate only through computers using the generic, plot-driven, impossibly fast operating systems available only in the universe of movies? How is it that the trail of bullet-riddled bodies both Banderas' and Stallone's characters leave behind them are never a liability, even in passing? Why aren't both men the target of investigations by multiple law enforcement agencies? And just how long can you sit in the balcony of a hotel room with a rifle pointing into a public square before somebody notices you and thinks perhaps that you're up to no good?
Overall, despite the flaws I've just underscored, this is an interesting and entertaining movie, if only because a shadowy world in which dangerous men make their livings quietly killing other dangerous men is compelling. The tone for this is set immediately as the film opens, with Stallone marching a fellow assassin into a swamp to end his life for some unnamed (but presumably contracted) reason. Watching it requires more than a little suspension of disbelief, and enjoying it may indeed be a guilty pleasure -- but it is a pleasure nonetheless.