By the time "Brass Target" begins, both "Patton" and World War II are over, which is a shame, at least for dramatic reasons. The hero, an O.S.S. man played by John Cassavates, also regrets the war's having ended for his own recreational reasons.

Both he and the film do the best they can with the leftovers, however, in a story about a plot to assassinate General George S. Patton. The general is also looking leftover in this film, having lost his war, his president's confidence and George C. Scott. George Kennedy has the role now, which is a minor one in this picture, ad has Patton barking rather pathetically about nothing.

He's not the only one wandering about lost in the postwar rubble. There seems to have been no clear decision as to what this film's supposed to be about. It opens with the hijacking of $250 million worth of gold that the Germans had supposedly hidden during the war, but we never hear about the gold again, it having served the purpose of explaining, though not very satisfactorily, why anyone would want to get Patton at that late date.

Who this is and why is also explained, also not very satisfactorily, early in the film. This eliminates the possibility of mystery, and the substitute is a matching of wits involving the O.S.S. man, an international villian played by Max von Sydow and an assortment of all-American profiteers. The world of spying and cleverness and countercleverness as to constitute a self-sustaining industry for the participants. The strewing and unstrewing of false information employs everyone in sight and almost makes up for the lack of a war in this war movie.

It must be added that one of the participants is Sophia Loren, as a woman who has managed, by having the right friends, to keep herself in eyeshadow and silk blouses while being forced from one country to another.

For her, too, it seems a shame that the war has ended. Like the rest of the characters and others concerned with this film, she is showing off a superfluous skill. BRASS TARGET - AMC's Academy 6, Beacon Mall 4, Fair City Mall 3, Inner Circle, Jerry Lewis 3, Landover 6, Rockville Mall 2, Town Centre 2.