The problems most likely start with the script by the Wachowski Brothers, which has a cool premise and a smattering of good ideas. It also has almost no pulse as a thriller, with listless action sequences, zero logic, stupid characters and an unnecessary, unbelievable romantic subplot. (Not to mention hilariously inaccurate usage of computers. Julianne Moore’s email address is email@example.com!) While the future MATRIX filmmakers receive official credit, word is their original script was rewritten by Brian Helgeland, who toned down the violence and made the characters more sympathetic—two of the film’s big problems. I would love to read the Wachowskis original script, as there probably is a good flick in here somewhere.
The writers aren’t completely to blame though. Neither Richard Donner nor Sylvester Stallone seem to be trying very hard with this ASSASSINS. This is not what you expect from the director of LETHAL WEAPON and SUPERMAN, a boring, bloodless, cliché-filled snoozer with little excitement. Same with the Italian Stallion; Robert Rath is definitely not a character that will be added to the great Stallone Pantheon of Memorable Badasses. You can see why this quiet, reserved role might be appealing to the aging action star, but Rath is simply dead weight thanks to the script. (The same goes for Julianne Moore’s crazy cat lady.) The only person who seems to be having fun here is a young Antonio Banderas as an up and coming hitman, though the Latin heartthrob has no problem overacting to an alarming degree. (His default bad guy move is to cackle uncontrollably.)
The only fun part of ASSASSINS is seeing Stallone and Banderas play against each other. Unfortunately, their characters only share a couple scenes. The rest is Sylvester Stallone hanging out in rooms, playing with cats.
Extra Tidbit: Michael Douglas, Sean Connery and Arnold Schwarzenegger were originally up for the Stallone role. Woody Harrelson, Christian Slater and Tom Cruise were considered for Banderas' part.