Walter Hill is a legend and one of the first true auteurs of action. If it weren’t for his films, talent like John Woo may have never come into their own. At 75, Hill is still trucking along and making films. The project he chose to bring to the screen is insanely bizarre, doesn’t always work, but there’s something fun going on in THE ASSIGNMENT. It totally misses the mark but with some exploitation elements and a delightfully sleazy performance by Sigourney Weaver, it’s not a waste of time.
Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez) is a hired assassin, the best in the business. Mob boss Honest John (Anthony LaPaglia) brings a new job to him and the pay is really good. Frank agrees to take it on but quickly learns it was a setup. He soon finds himself under the blade of Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver), a lunatic with a vendetta against him murdering her brother. When Frank wakes up, his manhood his gone and he is now fully transformed into a woman. With no clue as to what or who did this to him, Frank sets out on the road for revenge, ready to make everyone pay for what they did to him.
The story is simple and pretty straight forward but the filmmakers found it important to try and confuse you by telling the story out of context and through the eyes of one of the main characters. Much of this stuff was unnecessary but it did give Weaver the opportunity to chew up her scenes. She spews rhetoric, references Shakespeare and Poe, while channeling her inner Anthony Hopkins. Michelle Rodriguez is at her best when playing the character post operation. She also plays the character as a man and it’s just weird. She really comes to life though when she has a weapon in her hand. The film is politically in-correct in all the right ways. The film has already been protested by those who believe the subject matter is offensive. Someone who is forced to become the opposite sex as a punishment may seriously piss some folks off. The way I see it, this film should have been made in the 80’s. The style and absurdity would have been a perfect fit for that particular era. The action was pretty straight forward and gritty but I felt it should have been a bit more stylish to go along with the comic book transitions that are present in the picture. I wouldn’t say this is one of Hill’s best but it’s a freaky little mess with fun performances from Weaver and Rodriguez. I’m a huge Rodriguez fan and watching this film really proves she should be cast as a lead far more often, especially in an action film.