Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Donner|
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|133 minutes |
$30.3 million (US)
Assassins is a 1995 American action thriller film directed by Richard Donner. The screenplay was by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and Brian Helgeland. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas and costars Julianne Moore. The Wachowskis stated that their script was "totally rewritten" by Helgeland, and that they tried to remove their names from the film but failed.
Robert Rath (Sylvester Stallone) is a paid assassin who wants to retire, haunted by the memory of murdering his own mentor Nicolai years ago. He is on an assignment when someone else gets to the 'mark' (target) before he does. That intruder turns out to be Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas), a fellow assassin and a competitive sociopath. Bain plans to kill Rath to become the number one assassin.
As Rath tries to figure out who sent Bain, the contractor offers him a lucrative job that could allow him to retire: kill a computer hacker named Electra (Julianne Moore) and the four Dutch buyers of a computer disk and retrieve the disk. Electra has set up CCTV cameras and an elaborate mechanism for remotely moving items between rooms in the building where she is based.
Bain gets there first and kills the four Dutch buyers, who turn out to be Interpol agents. Rath, meanwhile, spares Electra, and the two escape from Bain with the disk. Rath exchanges the disk for his fee, given to him in a briefcase, which actually contains a bomb placed by his own contractor in an attempt to kill him. Electra then tells him she had swapped the disk, not sure if Rath was coming back. Rath demands a greatly increased fee from his contractor, this time to be wired to a bank.
The contractor (who is also Bain's contractor) sends Bain a new mark: Rath. Rath and Electra travel to the bank, where Rath identifies the decrepit, abandoned hotel that Bain will use as a sniper post and plans a trap.
After Bain's apparent death, Nicolai appears, revealing that he had had a bulletproof vest on when Rath had shot him years ago. Knowing that Nicolai would kill him too, Bain revives and joins Rath in shooting him dead. Bain still plans to kill Rath and become number one. Electra puts on her sunglasses, allowing Rath to see Bain; Rath shoots through his own jacket to kill him.
- Sylvester Stallone as Robert Rath
- Antonio Banderas as Miguel Bain
- Julianne Moore as Electra
- Anatoly Davydov as Nicolai Tashlinkov
- Muse Watson as Ketcham
- Steve Kahan as Alan Branch
- Kai Wulff as Remy
- Mark Coates as Jereme Kyle
- Kelly Rowan as Jennifer
- Reed Diamond as Bob
The original spec screenplay was written by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and sold for $1 million to producer Joel Silver around the same time he bought their script for The Matrix, also for $1 million. The script was similar to the final product, but with a more developed love story between Rath and Electra and a briefer ending without the character of Nicolai. Joel Silver offered Richard Donner $10 million to direct, but Donner insisted the script be rewritten to tone down the violence and make the central character more sympathetic and brought in Brian Helgeland, who did a page one rewrite and earned a co-screenwriter credit. The Wachowskis attempted to remove their name from the film but were refused by the Writers Guild of America.
The film received mostly negative press, and on the film-critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes received 16% positive reviews based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 3.7/10. The script was heavily criticized for being confusing and dull. Stallone's performance in the film earned him a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor (also for Judge Dredd), but lost the trophy to Pauly Shore for Jury Duty.
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