The Assignment (2017)
Critic Consensus: The Assignment's premise is bizarrely intriguing; unfortunately, it's also just one of many ingredients fumbled in a disappointing misfire from director Walter Hill.
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as Frank Kitchen / Tomboy
as Dr. Ralph Galen
as Honest John Hartunian
as Dr. Rachel Kay
as Nurse Albert Becker
as Jin Tao
as Ting Li
as Dr. Lin
as Cousin in Vegas
as Hiram Ko (Dog Trainer)
as Asian Woman
as Vladimir Gorski
as Edward Gonzalez
as Paul Wincott
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Critic Reviews for The Assignment
Has enough skill and personality going for it to make it worth checking out, even if it doesn't quite live up (or down, depending on your perspective) to its borderline sleazy premise.
"The Assignment" is an embarrassment all around, a murky, regrettable piece of gutter cinema. Next year's Razzie Awards race starts here.
The Assignment isn't quite as nutso and passionate as it ought to be. Even the violence, gritty at times, feels a little impersonal and detached. But the film's tawdry precision is compelling by itself.
There's howlingly awful and then there's "The Assignment," a thoroughly ridiculous, numbingly slow neo-noir thriller about a low-life hit man forcibly given gender reassignment surgery by a vengeful doctor.
This is perhaps the angriest movie Hill - longtime specialist in tough-guy fare such as "The Driver," "Last Man Standing," "Red Heat" and "Bullet to the Head" - has ever made.
Audience Reviews for The Assignment
You know, I've always felt a sort of admiration and respect for filmmakers/writers/actors/whomever it may be that find a new way to tell a story featuring characters that are rarely ever explored in films. Innovation isn't just something that's reserved for stylistic choices in your film, it's finding new angles to put your lead characters into that may provide some interesting scenarios. And this movie, at least in theory, has a bit of that. If you didn't know then, basically, the story boils down to Frank Kitchen, this professional hitman, who is kidnapped by his former employer and handed off to this doctor, played by Sigourney Weaver, who proceeds to perform a sex change operation in order to turn Frank into a woman as revenge for Frank killing her brother. That's certainly something we haven't seen before in a film, at least as far as I can tell. This concept has the potential to subvert the normal tropes associated with a genre as macho-centric as action films. I really do love this, I think it's a concept that ripe with great ideas of how to play with reserved gender roles. But, sadly, it pains me to say that the movie doesn't have the narrative chops in order to make proper usage of such a freaking great concept. Essentially, the film boils down to Frank Kitchen's generic quest to get revenge on the doctor who changed him. That's all the film is about, really, and the film explores this story in about as generic a manner as is humanly possible. I'm not saying that the film is bad, it's actually a perfectly decent revenge action thriller, but its reach definitely exceeds its grasp. You could say that at least they tried, but all they did was come up with the concept. The effort comes in how you follow up that concept and whether or not your narrative matches the creativity and uniqueness of it. And let's just say the effort was certainly lacking here. I will say that the only good idea the film has that they actually introduce here is Dr. Kay (Sigourney) mentioning that her reasons were twofold. Yes, she wanted for her brother and this was a way to psychologically torture Frank for this. She wanted to mess with Frank's idea of masculinity. But she also stated that she wanted to see if changing Frank's gender (which would theoretically affect his identity) would change the sort of person that Frank was. She wanted to change Frank's murderous habits. I think that's the only remotely interesting idea the film has here. They could have done something with Frank's change, but all they did is have Frank grab his new tits a couple of times. Everything else about Frank, really, is exactly the same. He changes in no discernible way whatsoever, other than the fact that he has tits and his penis was removed. Other than that, I mean, the movie really is perfectly decent. There's some enjoyment to be had if you look at it as a B-movie because, really, that's all this is. And there's nothing wrong with that, at all. But if you're gonna do this, then at least be a little more gleeful in your thrills. This flick has a noir-esque vibe when Michelle Rodriguez tells her side of her story in her gruff voice. That's another thing, the pacing is all out of whack. They jump back and forth between two timelines. Parts of story are told from the perspective of Dr. Galen (Tony Shalhoub), who's interviewing Dr. Kay (who's in an insane asylum until she is seen fit enough to stand trial), in order to get the truth of the matter and why there were four people dead in her illegal operating room. Galen doesn't believe that there really is a Frank Kitchen and he wants to find out why Kay is making this person up. The rest of the story is told from Frank's perspective as he goes on this journey of revenge against everyone attached to making him into a woman. I think jumping back and forth between two timelines hurts the film's pacing. Because just when you're getting into Frank's story, you're thrown right back to the insane asylum for further interviews with Kay. It's not so much of a problem when Sigourney Weaver gives a great performance as this narcissistic doctor, but they never really settle into a groove. It just doesn't flow well and that hurts the pacing. The action itself is fine, but very simplistic and bare bones. That shit just won't fly in this day and age of The Raid (both of them) and Mad Max Fury Road. The action here is serviceable enough, but completely forgettable. Michelle Rodriguez is good in her role and she is, pretty much, the perfect person to do this type of role. I'd have said Tilda Swinton would have been great, but she's more androgynous than anything else. That makes sense in my own head, it just wouldn't have worked with Tilda. Michelle Rodriguez has both feminine and masculine qualities that lend itself to this role. I will say, though, that the fake beard Michelle had to rock in the first part of the film was really laughably bad. It made her look like a woman who was trying to pass herself off as a man. I mean, that's precisely what she was, but I mean in the world of the film itself that's what she looked like. She didn't look enough like a man to make those scenes where she is one look convincing. I think the best bet would have been to cast a male actor for the parts where Frank is a man and then reveal Frank to be Michelle Rodriguez once she's a woman. It would have been a little more believable. Obviously you need to cast a man who looks enough like Michelle to pull this off, but it could have been done. The way they did do it, however, felt really hokey and laughable. Thankfully Michelle doesn't play Frank as a man for too long. But I digress, I don't know what else I can say about this. It's got a great concept, but the execution is so-so. There's some fun to be had here, for sure, if you're looking for some B-movie thrills, but I don't think this movie is ever as over-the-top (or interesting) enough as it concept would suggest it might have been. I can't recommend it, but there's worse movies out there. The adjective 'average' fits this flick to a T.
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