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The Assignment (1997)
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Review Date: May 24, 1998
Director: Christian Duguay
Writer: Dan Gordon, Sabi H. Shabtai
Producers: Franco Battista, Tom Berry
Actors:
Aidan Quinn
Donald Sutherland
Ben Kingsley
Plot:
Naval Officer Ramirez (Quinn) gets called upon by the CIA to impersonate the international terrorist known as the Jackal, in order to put an end to the actual militant's radical activities. He is chosen for this role because he physically resembles the real terrorist to a tee. Ramirez reluctantly agrees to take part in this "assignment", and soon finds himself wrapped up in a true web of international terrorism, intrigue and double-personality syndrome (which does not sit well with his uninformed wife and kids back in the States.)
Critique:
Great premise is executed with enough style and thrills to keep the piece interesting throughout its close to two-hour runtime. Admittedly, I wasn't a huge fan of any of the main actors in this film, and didn't expect much from this movie beforehand, but surprisingly it did have its thrilling moments, as well as a mostly plausible and absorbing story line. The first hour is mostly just a build-up of things to come, and does offer a great characterization of the Jackal, but the second hour is the one that really cranks in the cool scenes and a sweet ending.

Quinn was adequate in both roles as Naval Officer Ramirez and the real Jackal, but didn't offer anything extraordinary, in my opinion. Sutherland and Kingsley seem to be playing the same role that they've played in both of their respective careers of late, but nonetheless, appeared to relish the cold-heartedness of their chosen characters. I didn't like performance put forth from Quinn's wife in this flick, but then again, she doesn't show up in most of the film, so that wasn't so bad.

I did however enjoy director Duguay's interesting style and cinematic vision. This thriller could easily have been boring during many sequences, but Duguay always seemed to find something interesting to show the viewer. I thought that was neat. Having said that, I didn't think the first hour needed to be as long as it was, and the film did have me tinkering on the bridge of believability when the "fake" Jackal met with the "real" Jackal's girlfriend without much retrospection on her part, but all in all, not too many complaints in a movie that could easily be enjoyed by all those who take pleasure in the spy and terrorist thriller genre.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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