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TV Review: 'The Assignment' Is A Win On Amazon Prime Video

The Assignment The Artist Mikhail Gavrilov Maxim Max
Image by UPS Ukrainian Production Studio
First things first, do not believe the (one) review currently supplying “The Assignment” (aka “The Artist”) with a one-star rating on Amazon Prime Video for this excellent miniseries. It is worthy of a near-five. Thee one-star-view is not based on the show but the user’s inability to turn on the English-language closed captions. Turning them on is well worth the effort. Now, to yours truly’s review.

If you have been missing the levity, charm, and brilliance of “Silver Spoon,” then “The Assignment” is a welcome respite. Mikhail Gavrilov (the scene-stealing wunderkind of “Love in Chains”) stars as Maxim, an actor in a downward spiral. For starters, he is let go from his job on a popular cop-centric TV series.

From there, he loses his girlfriend to a friend and has an exorbitant gambling debt he owes to a powerful Mafioso. The silver lining in Max’s existence is his teen daughter by his former wife. A woman, who like the ex-wife in “Better Than Us,” treats her ex-husband with no affection.

The bitter cold of his stark reality does not end there. In a bid to free himself from his debt, Max is given an offer. Deliver a suitcase filled with unknown contents to a location. Hence, “The Assignment.” What happens next is a twist better left unspoiled.

It does lead to Max using his skills as an actor in an innovative way that marries one of my favorite plot devices. A protagonist achieves personal growth amidst the backdrop of a lie, which may undo all that has been built. The tension is palatable throughout as “The Assignment” goes all-in on it, leveraging it for all it is worth.
Like “Silver Spoon,” the fun and excitement of “The Assignment” revolves around Max, the charming rogue turned anti-hero, which Mikhail Gavrilov brings to compelling life. It is the nuanced turn that Gavrilov so brilliantly fights to bring to “Love in Chains.” At the same time, the writing there worked overtime to keep Gavrilov’s Grigori sequestered as literally a mustache-twirling villain.

In “The Assignment,” the talented actor gets an honest chance to use all of the tools he was not allowed to use before. To his credit, his bid in “Love in Chains” never went unnoticed by this viewer, who longed for the costume drama to let the writing for Grig seize the complexity that Mikhail Gavrilov had so brilliantly imbued him with.

For viewers curious to see what Gavrilov can do uninhibited by a black-and-white characterization, “The Assignment” is the answer. This is one of those feel-good shows. Max does not have to suffer a horrible indignity that the entire show spends its time working to undo, only to gratify viewers with justice in its final moments.

There is a procedural element to the crime drama and an overarching angle that fuels its central storyline. This allows the viewer to enjoy the entire ride rather than just the final minutes. In that vein, “The Assignment” has a lot going for it in how it spreads its attention.

According to personal research, there is only one season of the series. Do not fear. Everything gets wrapped up before the end of the show, so there is no need to worry about investing in it. “The Assignment” will not leave you hanging off of one of those pesky plot cliffs.

In closing, come for Mikhail Gavrilov’s magnificent performance, which benefits from a wonderful supporting cast. Be sure to stay for the fun, twisty storyline. This is a quick binge you will not regret. Every episode is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video, alongside other Russian-language content.

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