Surrounded by controversy from the get, THE ASSIGNMENT – the latest film by director Walter Hill who is best known for the pop cult classic “The Warriors” – does not live up to the hype of some of Hill’s earlier works, but it will give action seekers some thrills.
In the film, Michelle Rodriguez takes on the double role of Frank Kitchen and Frank Kitchen – before and after his “involuntary” sex reassignment surgery that is. As a hitman that becomes the victim of a crazed surgeon named Dr. Kay (Sigourney Weaver), who is seeking revenge after her brother is killed, Kitchen spends much of the film in search of his own brand of justice – and to Rodriguez’s credit, she does well with most of the action scenes.
But it wasn’t the action I took issue with. It isn’t even the hotly contested transgender theme that has given me pause – although I can empathize with those who believe its being used as a tool for revenge is inappropriate, as I understood those from the women’s advocacy community who took issue with the 2015 psychological thriller “The Gift” and the sexual assault theme, which many believed was a misguided tool used to drive the script. But, unlike “The Assignment,” The Gift took the time to deliver a big reveal, which I feel leaves the audience with a more exciting and satisfying pay off.
The “rub” in this film was the fact that the audience knows where it’s going from the start, and there isn’t a big enough twist or pivot to make this B movie as bad@$$ as it could have been. When the film starts, we find Weaver’s character in a psychiatric facility, and we also know she’s being blamed for Kitchen’s actions. We also know what gripe the protagonist has against everyone he comes up against in the story – except for one of Kay’s accomplices he discovers later in the film – but that reveal alone and the fairly decent action scenes aren’t enough to elevate the movie to classic or even multiple re-watch status.
And although it was cool to see some solid character actors like Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without A Trace) in the cast, neither they nor the Alien series icon Weaver were enough to push this film forward.
Currently On-Demand, and in select theaters, THE ASSIGNMENT isn’t for those seeking a more complicated thrill, but will do for those who don’t mind the storyline and want to enjoy some action.
Until next thought, Thomasena