Now Playing Movie Reviews podcast hosted by Sarah Mason and Jake Essoe from The HMC. Review by Sarah Mason.
Legendary filmmaker Walter Hill first heard the story for his latest revenge thriller THE ASSIGNMENT in 1978. But it would take almost 40 years and many projects in between (THE WARRIORS, ALIENS, Tales from the Crypt, Deadwood) to bring Denis Hamill's original story draft, Tomboy, to the big screen.
Hit man Frank Kitchens (Michelle Rodriguez), double crossed by his client mob boss Honest John (Anthony LaPaglia) undergoes gender reassignment surgery against his will at the hands of a sadistic surgeon (Sigourney Weaver) who seeks revenge for the death of her brother. Aided by his nurse girlfriend, Kitchens sets out for revenge.
THE ASSIGNMENT is not a great film but its consistent action and strong performances, keep you intrigued throughout it's relatively short run time (1h 35m). Editor Phil Norden uses comic book style stills to move the story along from act to act. It's a kitchy but effective technique giving the film a cult classic charm.
Rodriguez performance is strong particularly in the second act when she loses the obvious and distracting male disguise. Weaver's scenes with Tony Shaloub, who plays a psychiatrist tasked with the doctor's diagnosis, are some of the best moments of the film and certainly the highlight of the script.
One could argue that THE ASSIGNMENT is both timely, and suffering from horrific timing. Though I don't think Hill intended the film to serve as social statement or lacking empathy he perhaps, should have considered the consequences. What Hill does do, he does well, good ol' fashion action, THE GETAWAY, 48 HOURS, to name a few. And that is what this film is, a B action film with a A cast. HUMAN CENTIPEDE meets SIN CITY if you will. Loyal fans of action films and Hill will surely dig it. If you can overlook the bad PR, which you should, it's worth a watch. 6/10.
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