Movie Review: 'The Assignment'
Try this for a B-movie premise, a shameless (and harmless) male fantasy, and a pulpy airplane read come to the screen: Annibal Ramirez, a Cuban-American naval officer who happens to look exactly like the international terrorist Carlos ”The Jackal” Sanchez (Aidan Quinn in both roles), is ordered to withstand brutal hardships while training to impersonate (and thus flush out) the elusive scourge. The unorthodox course is run by a bitter CIA agent (Donald Sutherland in a patented SOB performance) and a weathered Israeli Mossad man (Ben Kingsley in a patented ethnic accent) in The Assignment. How hard are Ramirez’s hardships? Well, at one point the married Navy man is forced — forced! — to take sex lessons from one of Carlos’ beautiful ex-mistresses, who moans and pants about what a fabulous, cruel, potent lover the evil bomber is, how he turns women to quivering jelly, etc., etc. Ooh, such devotion to duty. Everyone does his job well enough in this competent spy thriller (directed by Screamers’ Christian Duguay), and the story moves along at an enjoyable clip through even the most ludicrous bits. Quinn is particularly good when Ramirez worries about inhabiting Carlos’ nasty skin a little too well. And Kingsley actually gets to say ”Oy!” — surely the international exclamation of distress among spies. B-