THE ASSASSINATION GAME is a fairly conventional political thriller. Although the film is given some credibility by its extensive location shooting, it is a forgettable addition to the ranks of paranoid spy flicks.
Jack Reilly (Robert Rusler) is a CIA rookie whose unofficial mission is to stop Lithuanian terrorist Vlad (Doug Wert) from assassinating Mikhail Gorbachev. Vlad is an ideologue with a grudge, a revolutionary refugee bent on vengeance for the Soviets' murder of his family. Contacted in Germany by
the Lithuanian resistance, he returns home, and Jack follows with his old buddy Leo (Theodore Bikel), a retired KGB operative with invaluable connections in the East. They enlist the aid of Vanina (Denise Bixler), Vlad's old revolutionary comrade. At first she doesn't trust them, but gradually
realizes that they've uncovered a plot to assassinate Gorbachev and return Russia to pre-glasnost tyranny by blaming his death on leftists and staging a military coup.
Leo is killed by assassin Antonin Ambrazis (Stephan Danailov), who's keeping a close eye on Vlad, following him with a monitor planted in one of his guns. Reilly and Vanina thwart Vlad's first attempt at killing the Russian leader, then follow him to Moscow, where he is to try again. Moments
before Vlad fires the fatal shot, Reilly and Vanina confront him, and reveal that he has been duped and manipulated by military extremists. Vlad fires on the military officials and Gorbachev escapes, but as tanks roll in, the heroes realize that they have been unable to prevent the coup.
Shot in Germany, Bulgaria, and the former USSR (though released in 1993, this aggressively timely movie fell victim to rapidly changing political currents in Eastern Europe before it was even released). Although the film's advertising--"He's paid to kill. But he'd do it anyway"--had a
thrillingly lurid ring, the film itself is morose and curiously lifeless. Much of the problem lies in the cast; while lead hunks Rusler and Wert are both undeniably attractive, filling out their (oh-so-tight) t-shirts admirably, they're also wooden; Wert delivers a far better performance in
another 1993 Concorde/New Horizons film, DRACULA RISING. Bikel is quite the opposite, annoyingly animated and relentlessly charming, like the hail-fellow-well-met guy at the gas station or highway motel who torments travellers owners with his witless bonhomie. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: R
- Review: THE ASSASSINATION GAME is a fairly conventional political thriller. Although the film is given some credibility by its extensive location shooting, it is a forgettable addition to the ranks of paranoid spy flicks. Jack Reilly (Robert Rusler) is a CIA ro… (more)