Walter Hill’s The Assignment (originally title (Re)assignment. In some markets it is playing with this title, too) stars Michelle Rodriguez as Frank Kitchen. He is a highly successful hitman who is double crossed by his employers and then exacts his revenge on all those involved. Notice I said “he” when referring to Michelle Rodriguez. The gimmick in The Assignment is that somewhere in here, is some gender reassignment surgery on our star taking Ms. Rodriguez from Frank to….well, Frank only he looks like Michelle Rodriguez.
I have always been a huge fan of Walter Hill. He was a protégé of action maestro Sam Peckinpah, who directed classics like original The Getaway, Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and The Iron Cross. Mr. Hill is no slouch either with films like the 48 Hours films, Trespass, Southern Comfort, Red Heat, The Warriors and The Long Riders and a producing resume that includes the Alien films. Why and how he would take on a project like The Assignment is puzzling. I have my own opinions on the LGBT agenda, was not aware that is what The Assignment was about, but went with the plot because the film requires it.
I ask why Mr. Hill would take on such a project, because this film is a rather ham fisted approach on issues that others take very seriously. It is treated as a gimmick, a sideshow and really does not show why it was necessary to use this gimmick as a plot device. There is nothing special about Frank or his personality that made me care who he or she was. So whether she is a he or he is a she, i had no invested interest because the script and characters are numbingly ho-hum. In fact, everything in The Assignment is pretty standard stuff. The action sequences that is Hill’s specialty are dull and uninteresting. Hill has learned well from Mr. Peckinpah in the past, but here, the action is thrown on the screen carelessly and devoid of any style. There simply was no special reason to have the gender reassignment plot device because nothing is special about Frank, so the revenge plot is meaningless.
Michelle Rodriguez is a fine actress, when she focuses and picks good parts. But five seconds after she appears on screen in the beginning with ponytail and beard, you knew who she was. There was nothing the set her character apart from any of the thousands of other hitmen characters from these kinds of films. Sigourney Weaver plays Dr. Rachel Jane, the main villain who is out for her own revenge on Frank who assassinated her brother some years before. Her desire is to make sure Frank stops the killing and becomes a new person. Before you can say ” Caitlyn Jenner” she has Frank taking hormone pills and shopping for women’s garments. If this sounds silly, that is because it is. This film is as insipid as it is silly.
I could not care less about the overall message of The Assignment and its agenda-pushing plot. This is just a poorly made thriller. I did not care about any of these characters which include Tony Shalhoub as a doctor assigned to pick the brain of Dr. Jane or Anthony LaPaglia as the local mob boss who facilitates Dr. Jane’s plan for revenge. Michelle Rodriguez does what she can with this lame material and relative newcomer Caitlin Gerard is Frank’s on again, off again girlfriend is a pleasant character in this otherwise murky and incompetent film. I was however pleased with the score which features the Godfather of synth, Giorgio Moroder along with Raney Shockne which shows that even though Mr. Moroder is 76, he still can crank out some great score music. Sadly, no score has been set for release. My only wish is that The Assignment suffered that fate, instead.
The Assignment or (Re)Assignment – *1/2 out of 5
The Assignment or (Re)Assignment – Rated R for language, graphic violence, nudity and adult situations.
The Assignment or (Re)Assignment – Run Time is 94 minutes
The Assignment or (Re)Assignment as it was originally titled is no playing in select cities, On Demand and subscription services. Check your local listings for show times and locations nearest you.