The Assignment





It is hard to believe in 2017, that a movie as tone deaf as Walter Hill's The Assignment could actually exist, but in the time of Trump I have to continue to remind myself that anything is possible. Here is a movie that is not just bad on the merits of it's inexcusable plot- it's a movie about a hitman that is kidnapped and unwillingly given sexual reassignment surgery- but equally awful in it's production value and lead performance. Seriously though, we already live in a world where transphobia is rampant, as people are persecuted for where they go to the bathroom or how they live their lives, and now we have a movie like The Assignment, a sure lock for one of the worst movies of 2017.  

It starts out with our lead character- Frank Kitchen (played by Michelle Rodriguez), a ruthless hitman who takes on a job from mobster Honest John (Anthony LaPaglia)...yeah trust a guy named “Honest” John. The hit is placed on the brother of Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver) and when the job is completed, Honest John double crosses Frank, delivering him to the mad doctor. That's when the sexual reassignment surgery takes place, much to the killers shock, motivating Frank, who is ludicrously listed in the IMDB credits as Tomboy, to enact her revenge on the Doctor.

There are so many things wrong in this movie, I don't even know where to begin. Rodriguez is suited with some of the worst makeup ever concocted in a film, including, a prosthetic nose that looks worse than Steve Martin's Pinocchio nose in Roxanne and a beard that looks similar to the time Beavis and Butt-Head glued their own pubic hair to their face. On top of this, is a script from Hill and writer Denis Hamill that pointlessly goes back and forth in timelines, gives us title cards of times and locations that never matter, and interjects comic book storyboards that seem like a last ditch effort to make the film “cool”.

And then there is the matter of how the film treats the transgender issue as a constant negative thing, a phobia, or demonizing aspect that can only be viewed as wrong. Most of the time while I was watching The Assignment, I thought about Gene Siskel's theory, that watching the making of a movie can be more interesting than the movie itself. That applies here, because I want to know what the actors and directors were actually thinking about while making this film. You can't just walk in and be okay with this can you? Shouldn't you have cast an actual transgendered person? Should you have made it at all? Why did anyone involved say yes to this? 

The films lone shining moment...if you can even call it that (and the sole reason for a 1 star rating), is the performance from Sigourney Weaver. Her character chews all the scenery, mainly in an insane asylum, engaged in dialogue with Tony Shalhoub's Dr. Ralph Galen, discussing dramatic lines from Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe. The direction from Walter Hill, who is known for the cult classic The Warriors and working with Weaver as a producer of the Alien films, seems to also relish in the sex and blood of this film. The shoot outs are sloppy, even at close range, and he can't wait to show the newly transitioned woman hooking up with Caitlin Gerard's friendly nurse character. I don't understand why he just didn't make a classic thriller about a hired gun? There is enough intrigue and a strong cast to go around without offending anyone.

Either way, The Assignment is a mess. I think most audiences will be so shocked by the films initial portrayal of Rodriguez in terrible makeup that it's distraction might ruin any persons ability to recover. You may even say my review is too much of a moral or sensitive point toward what the director was trying to do, but that still doesn’t change the fact that everything else in this movie terrible. Even if it was about something else, the performances would still be mediocre, the direction would still be shoddy, and that makes for a lousy movie. The Assignment is a task that everyone should pass on.

1 Star

Written by: Leo Brady