The Assignment (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Assignment (1997)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

During the 1970s and '80s, Carlos Sanchez (AKA "The Jackal) was the most notorious terrorist in the world, and it was not until 1994 that he was finally captured. Though he is a real person, the plot and other characters in this old-fashioned espionage thriller are fictional. Known for his ruthlessness and brutality Sanchez (Aidan Quinn, who also plays the hero Annibal Ramirez), is at the top of the CIA's most wanted list, and operative Jack Shaw (Donald Sutherland), having witnessed a particularly bloody terrorist attack from Sanchez during the '70s, is particularly obsessed with catching him. Naval officer Annibal Ramirez is on vacation in Israel in the mid '80s when he finds himself arrested and interrogated by Israeli Mossad agents at the request of their leader Amos (Ben Kingsley). It turns out that Ramirez is almost an exact double for Sanchez. Following his return to the States, Ramirez finds himself contacted by Shaw and asked to serve his country by impersonating Sanchez in hopes of convincing the terrorists' communist employers that their number one terrorist is a traitor. To do this, Ramirez must leave his wife, children and normal life behind to, in essence, become exactly like Sanchez. The two agents take Ramirez to Canada where he receives special training in every aspect of Ramirez's life. Though filmed on a low budget, this taut sophomore effort from Canadian director Christian Duguay (Screamers) has an old-fashioned feel, in large part because it features a strong ensemble cast and centers on character development rather than endless streams of action.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, sex, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Sabi H. Shabtai, Dan Gordon
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2001
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Aidan Quinn
as Lt. Cmdr. Annibal Ra...
Donald Sutherland
as Jack Shaw/Henry Fiel...
Claudia Ferri
as Maura Ramirez
Vlasta Vrana
as KGB Head Officer
Al Waxman
as Carl Mickens
Gregory Hlady
as KGB Aide
Kliment Denchev
as KGB Technician
Ndiouga Sarr
as Nigerian Oil Ministe...
Manuel Aranguiz
as Venezuelan Oil Minis...
Leni Parker
as OPEC Receptionist
Jacques Lavallée
as Du Foltiere--DST
David J. Francis
as Naval Aide
Gouchy Boy
as CIA Aide
Tim Post
as CIA Aide
Daniel Pilon
as Admiral Crawford
Richard Jutras
as Commander Scowcroft
Hisham Zayed
as Libyan Customs Offic...
Ted Whittall
as Norfolk Police Capta...
Francis Del Vecchio
as Injured Paris Boy
Lisa Wegner
as Berlin Lover
Lucie Laurier
as Paris Lover
Neil Kroetsch
as Ramirez' Father
Matthew Dupuis
as Young Ramirez
Paul Stewart
as Hospital Father
Claude Genest
as Baseball Dad
Michael Caloz
as Baseball Kid
David Franco
as St. Martin Postman
Heinz Becker
as German Beerhall Sing...
Louis Bouchard
as German Beerhall Sing...
Mark Knoeffel
as German Beerhall Sing...
Andres Lange
as German Beerhall Sing...
Martin Morf
as German Beerhall Sing...
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Assignment

Critic Reviews for The Assignment

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (6)

If there's a small saving grace to this crude thriller, it is the work of Montreal-born director Christian Duguay, who shows flashes of real flare.

Full Review… | July 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

If you believe that Elvis still lives or that a millennial invasion of flying saucers is imminent, you might buy the bogus premise.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

A film of real finesse, style and intelligence, an espionage thriller of the old school, with some modern technical embellishments.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Intelligent and gripping.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | September 26, 1997
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Assignment


Excellent CIA thriller, even though this is from the 1997 time frame, its still got plenty of action, and at the end of the movie when the KGB raids Carlos's home, it shows some pretty cool spy devices that are still in use today, ask any Swat Team Member. Reason I rented it is because it was on a 1997 Toronto International Film Festival List and I am reviewing all those movies as time permits. This movie has plenty of action and I feel that Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland, and Ben Kingsley played excellent parts. The Movie shows a part that?s supposed to be a Naval Officers house in Norfolk Virginia, sorry but their are no background mountains in Norfolk Virginia unless you count Mt Trashmore. But its an excellent movie with good chase scenes and stunts, A real life adventure, based on a real story. 5 Stars nothing less.

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer


This film deserves 100% for cinematography for its opening sequence. The movie is worth watching for that shot alone. And the even better thing is that the opening sequence also becomes the ending leaving you totally guessing.

Steven Vincent Gee

Super Reviewer


This is a suspense thriller involving spies, lies, and the one and only CARLOS. The film stars Aidan Quinn in a juicy dual role, playing a United States Naval Officer named Annibal Ramirez, and the antagonist, the mysterious and notorious terrorist named Carlos. CIA man Jack Shaw (Donald Sutherland) masterminds a plot to get Carlos when he stumbles upon Quinn who is a dead ringer for the Carlos.
Well executed and well acted with an intriguing plot and superb performances from all the leads; a brilliant combination of Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley.
A really tight film that shouldn't be overlooked! Recommended for espionage or thriller fans...
Rated R (for violence, language, fairly graphic sex scenes & nudity)

Deb S

Super Reviewer

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