Assassin (1986)

I was rather surprised that Robert Conrad did not look as old as I expected in this one.  He’s still around and working which surprises me even more. After all, The Wild Wild West goes all the way back to 1965.

Although what is perhaps stranger is that (unlike so many leading men) he’s actually playing a character here who comfortably fits in with his apparent age.

This one was a CBS TV movie from the Eighties.  While there has been a lot of creative freedom in the TV movies of the Seventies, when you only needed the approval of two or three people to get your project made, this wasn’t as true in the mid-Eighties.  It isn’t too hard to figure out that this one is basically a copy of the sort of spy thriller that was made in the late Seventies and early Eighties, like Telefon or Day of the Jackal, with their rather ordinary and realistic characters and the layers of secrets, politics and dubious actions.  In this case, Robert Conrad plays an aging agent, pulled out of retirement by the mysterious Agency, to hunt one of their own, a master assassin who is killing off their agents.

However, as this one was made two years after The Terminator, the agent, Robert Golem, is actually a robot who is nearly unstoppable.

As I said, this was a TV movie, and it looks and feels like a TV movie, and has the usual cast of familiar TV actors.  The one major surprise is that Doug Beswick provided the robot effects.  While he worked on a string of major movies, one does tend to forget that special effects companies do end up taking whatever jobs they can get.  As Doug specialized in practical effects, he obviously provided the prosthetics and models.  And they are fairly well done, if not particularly extensive.  We certainly do not get to see the robot reduced down to a steel skeleton, with or without the limp.

It is moderately entertaining for what it is, and plays out with the sort of deliberate pace those serious spy films affected.  While it isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it’s not that bad if you can accept that it is just a TV movie, shot on a limited budget and in a hurry.

Just don’t expect anything as impressive as those put out by Dan Curtis or the screenwriting team of Levinson and Link.

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