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Assassins needs better story to complement Banderas


Directed by Richard Donner.

Starring Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore, and Sylvester Stallone.

Sony Cheri.

By Daniel Ramirez

The name "Stallone" above a title used to assure a movie of being a box office smash. However, over the past few years, that moniker has only assured a movie of mild success. Maybe Assassins could be different - with action director Richard Donner, how could this movie have gone wrong? Add to this the Latin superstar Antonio Banderas and how could anything have gone wrong? But where an assassin is always supposed to hit a bullseye, this movie doesn't even come close to hitting a target.

Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone) is a player in a deadly game, a combatant on a battlefield most people never knew existed. It's a game played in the shadows - existence depends on isolation, leaving no trace, having no contact. Ultimately, the players are doomed. A bullet is the only way out.

Initially recruited by the urgent cause of the Cold War, Rath did a job for which few men were fit, but there was a strange morality, a sense of right and wrong, which governed it. Glasnost ended that clarity - but not the demand for his talent. It is now a free-lance world where business interests define the playing field. Codes and sense of duty no longer matter, and Rath wants out.

But Miguel Bain's (Antonio Banderas) appetite for the game is still in its ascendancy. Passionate and ambitious, Bain thrives on the cunning of the plan, the thrill of the kill. An avid student of history, Bain knows the profound mark assassins have left on civilization's course and he knows his time has come.

He believes that only one man stands in the way of his destiny; and he knows how Rath took the reins from his own predecessor. Bain intends to make history repeat itself. It's a hard fact, but there's only room at the top for one.

Electra (Julianne Moore) is a surveillance expert, a cunning thief in the information world. She's had to depend on her wits and intuition to succeed in a dangerous world. Along the way, she's paid the same price as Rath - isolation, paranoia, a nomadic lifestyle - and by now it's impossible for her to interact with people on any normal level. This voyeuristic lifestyle falls far short of fulfilling her; Electra is slipping dangerously deep into the game she's playing. But meeting Rath gives her a chance, just as she becomes his shot at salvation.

These three extraordinary nomads cross paths at one critical instant, looking for something in one another that the outside world can't possibly give. As Rath and Electra struggle to emerge from their shadow world for good, Bain uses an arsenal of deadly skills to become the best in that world.

But Rath has been there before. He's been the best for years; now he's going to use everything history has taught him to help him make his break.

What can possibly be said about this movie? With Richard Donner at the helm, one would expect an action packed film that keeps you on the edge of the your seat. While Assassins does have its share of bangs and booms, it offers little as far as plot and depth are concerned. Donner is known for bringing big explosions and lots of action to the screen, but with those movies also came a great story that made the audience feel like they were on a roller coaster. Unlike Donner's other movies, Assassins seems more like a kiddie ride. The audience always seems to know what is going to happen next. Then there's Sylvester Stallone. Stallone hasn't been all too lucky at the box office these past few years, and this movie won't help him one bit. His character seemed too one-dimensional and very lame at some points in the movie.

Don't get me wrong, Assassins isn't all bad. But about the only good aspect of the movie is Antonio Banderas' character Miguel Bain. Following a memorable performance in Desperado, Banderas brings spice and flavor to an otherwise dull and meaningless film. However, not even Banderas can lift this movie out of the hole that it dug itself into. If you like movies on the basis of explosions and nothing else, then Assassins is the movie for you. However, if you're like me, and demand a good story, then I recommend that you save your money and go see something else.