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The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

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The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

Old 10-16-17, 05:14 PM
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The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

I couldn’t find a thread on THE ASSIGNMENT, so I’m starting one. I don’t recall if this film opened theatrically or not, but a friend told me it was on Amazon Prime and recommended it, so I watched it. It took a while to warm up to it, but once I did it was quite an interesting ride and one of the better new crime films I’ve seen in a while. Its human transformation plot definitely echoes Hill’s earlier, better film, JOHNNY HANDSOME (1989), but this one is more stylized and has a loopy, delirious feel to it, like a pulp fever dream anchored by two superb performances by Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver. Both are unsavory, somewhat unhinged characters—Rodriguez is a hitman, Weaver a mad surgeon—but not at all unsympathetic. All this mitigated some of the plot contrivances and genre cliches littering the film. Rodriguez plays a hitman, Frank Kitchen, complete with beard, flat chest and penis(!) and when Weaver is done with her, in an elaborate revenge plot, Frank is now a woman, complete with Michelle Rodriguez’s breasts and vagina. Of course, the character freaks out before finally taking stock, making the best of the situation and trying to track down both the mad doctor and the crime boss who betrayed him and turned him over to the doctor. I totally believed Michelle in both iterations. She really sold the character. It's the best performance I've seen her give. The film is largely told in flashback structure, with Weaver in a straitjacket at a mental institution telling the story, detail-by-detail, in a clearly enunciated tone as if she’s talking to a child, to psychiatrist Tony Shalhoub. Weaver and Rodriguez only have about two short scenes together. It's set in San Francisco and was filmed in Vancouver. The two stars plus Shalhoub and Anthony LaPaglia as the crime boss are the only actors in the cast who are familiar to me.

Just as JOHNNY HANDSOME’s surgeon character (Forest Whitaker) posited the question of whether the title character’s transformation from disfigured freak into Mickey Rourke would change his soul, Weaver’s surgeon wonders if changing Frank Kitchen into a woman would alter the ease with which he kills. (I think you can figure out how this question is answered.) This film also reminded me of Ringo Lam’s Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi thriller, REPLICANT, another film I like a lot, in which Van Damme’s clone character wakes up with an unformed mind in an adult’s body and freaks out, just like Frank Kitchen does here when he wakes up in a seedy hotel room in the body of a woman. They're great scenes that dramatize a state of extreme disorientation and anxiety. I also recall Melvin Van Peebles’ THE WATERMELON MAN (1971), in which Godfrey Cambridge played a white man who wakes up as a black man, but that one was played for laughs and political points and didn’t go very deep into the human dimension, as I recall.

Old 10-16-17, 05:24 PM
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Re: The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

Been a while since I saw it, but didn't care for it.

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
I totally believed Michelle in both iterations.
Had a hard to time maintaining a straight face seeing Rodriguez trying to be passed off as a man early on.
Old 10-17-17, 07:41 AM
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Re: The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

I'll have to watch this just to see how Walter Hill is doing.
Old 10-17-17, 11:00 AM
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Re: The Assignment (2016) D: Walter Hill; S: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver

I thought it was a pretty solid flick. Like an old school action flick they don't make anymore.

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