Richard Donner gets a lifetime pass from me for The Omen and Superman, not to mention The Goonies, Scrooged and the Lethal Weapon films. He also directed the original “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone. But for all these films, sometimes you must endure some of his misfires, like The Toy and, well, Assassins.
The original spec script was written by The Wachowskis, who sold it for $1 million to producer Joel Silver. He must have been flush with cash at the time, as he also bought their script for The Matrix for a million too. He then offered Donner $10 million to direct the film, but first, he wanted the violence toned down and Stallone’s character made more sympathetic. That means that Brian Helgeland (976-EVIL, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and Man On Fire, which he also directed) was brought in to do a rewrite, which led to the Wachowskis trying to get their names off the movie before being refused by the Writers Guild of America.
Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone) is an assassin who wants to retire. He’s haunted by the memories of killing his mentor and has lost a step, as Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) gets to his next mark before he can.
Bain’s goal is to be number one, which means he has to take out Rath. Then they both take on the mission of taking out Electra (Julianne Moore), a computer hacker. All manner of shenanigans ensue, placing both men in one another’s crosshairs repeatedly.
Honestly, I struggled to even get through this one. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve watched thirty Stallone movies in seven days, but I don’t think that’s the problem. This is just boring where it could be so much better, although I love Banderas in the film. He made the actor’s decision to only eat fruit in the movie, which makes no sense, but it’s one hilarious bit of method acting.