The Assignment (2017) – A Review
Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez) is a lethal, macho, deadly hitman. After carrying out a contract on someone Frank has angered the wrong person and who wants him to endure the most psychological pain possible. Frank wakes up one day and finds that he has undergone a complete sex re-assignment surgery.
Despite that now he has boobs and is missing a few manly pieces, Frank is still as dangerous as ever and sets his now feminine sights on those responsible for making him a woman and to find why.
Walter Hill directs this pulpy actioner and despite it’s oddball, outlandish premise it never excels or embraces it as it should have to make a worthwhile flick. The Assignment could have been an entertaining, kitschy thriller, with an anti-hero struggling with one heck of a unique issue. Instead, it just kind of lays there, doesn’t do as much as I would have thought with it’s sex swapped hook, doesn’t deliver a very satisfying on its setup and ends up being pretty forgettable in the end.
Female Frank really doesn’t seem to struggle much with his new body. It appears to be more of an inconvenience than a life-changing operation has taken place. Even had he started to figure out ways his new attributes could become another tool in his killing arsenal that would have been something. But really, his condition is not something that is pushed to the forefront for his character or his revenge seeking.
This could have just as easily had been Frank waking up with plastic surgery that has changed his face for the amount of repercussions he struggles with finding himself with his gender re-assignment operation. The most he really does is tape down his boobs.
Sigourney Weaver channels Hannibal Lecter playing a quack plastic surgeon. Tony Shalhoub gets to interview her as she tells this tale. That’s another thing. The movie jumps back and forth in time telling this story and it gets more annoying than engaging.
Caitlin Gerard is a nurse who had a sexual tryst with male Frank and now helps female Frank. Then toss in Anthony LaPaglia as a gangster who has sold Frank out. The movie has a good cast, but sadly they find themselves playing thin characters in a very boring story. Also action fans will find very little to get excited about here. And there’s no big revelations that come along that will add any surprise to the story.
This is rather a standard revenge story, and the big hook they have for it is barely explored. They could have done a bit more with this idea and really have run with this premise and let us watch the character being forced to adapt to his condition.
Even had he begun to discover some sort of actual redemption being a woman would have been much more compelling than what barely takes place here. That aspect could have made even a poorly written, clichéd story be distinctive enough it could have propped up a run-of-the-mill story. I mean, you’re going to have us accept the premise for this story so let’s really run with it!
I think had they really gotten creative with this idea this could have spawn a few action sequels, like John Wick is doing. Following Rodriguez’s female transformation, her taking center stage playing this conflicted character while she shoots baddies and busts heads while she adapts to her female body. That has the potential to be a cool ongoing story.
Instead, The Assignment is a bust (not that kind of bust). I will say, Rodriguez is pretty good playing the tough action role once again. She must have had fun playing this part. It is momentarily fascinating to watch Frank wake up discovering what has happened to him. If you’re watching this movie that’s a scene you’ll be anxious to see and it is compelling. I wish that idea followed through during the rest of the movie rather than just ending there. This wasn’t one of Hill’s better movies.