The Assignment – Movie Review


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The Assignment

 

Directed by: Walter Hill

Starring: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Caitlin Gerard, Tony Shalhoub and Anthony LaPaglia

Rated: R

Run Time: 1h 35mins

Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller

3 Frames out of 5

By: Shari K. Green

 

The Assignment is a noir film based on revenge.  A hitman, by the name of Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez), assassinates the brother of Dr. Rachel Kay (Weaver) and lives to regret the assignment where he chose to do so.  Rachel is a plastic surgeon and when she learns of the death of her brother, whom she was very close to, she gets even with the person who ended his life, in the best way she can think of; by using her skills on the operating table.  After having done a job murdering a sociopath’s brother in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, Frank wakes up to find some time has passed.  He’s been healing from major surgery.  Alone in a squalid, dark and seedy motel room, he shakes it off and slowly unwraps the bandages on him to find out he’s no longer a he… he’s a she.  After some quick poking around, he discovers everything about him is now a she; everything.  Frank prides himself on being a tough guy and his new condition is not only hard to get used to but incredibly difficult to accept.  In the room, he finds a recorder with a message to him from the woman who did this.  The message tells Frank that he’s now given a chance to redeem himself.  The room is paid for, for two more weeks.  He’s given specific instructions on how to care for himself and is encouraged to take the time needed to convalesce… he also must get used to who he now is.  Once he does this, maybe he should learn to be a better person.

After having done a job murdering a sociopath’s brother in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, Frank wakes up to find some time has passed.  He’s been healing from major surgery.  Alone in a squalid, dark and seedy motel room, he shakes it off and slowly unwraps the bandages on him to find out he’s no longer a he… he’s a she.  After some quick poking around, he discovers everything about him is now a she; everything. Frank prides himself on being a tough guy and his new condition is not only hard to get used to but incredibly difficult to accept.  In the room, he finds a recorder with a message to him from the woman who did this.  The message tells Frank that he’s now given a chance to redeem himself.  The room is paid for, for two more weeks.  He’s given specific instructions on how to care for himself and is encouraged to take the time needed to convalesce… he also must get used to who he now is.  Once he does this, maybe he should learn to be a better person.

It isn’t long before Frank starts looking for a doctor who can reverse the surgery.  He asks if he can go back to, ‘being a guy?’  What he finds is a harsh reality.  It is assumed he needs to take the time to get used to his gender reassignment and it’s suggested he try therapy.  Not being able to tell a doctor about what really happened to him, he now seeks revenge of his own.  Frank may be a woman on the outside but on the inside, he’s still Frank Kitchen.  He tapes his breasts so they don’t show and gets down to the business of retaliation.

In the meantime, Kay makes a full confession.  In a psychiatric ward, she tells her therapist, Dr. Ralph Galen (Shalhoub), about what she did to Frank and why she did it.  This scene is outstanding.  It gives Weaver a chance to be angry, desperate, deranged and passionate all at once.  She delivers her lines expertly and soundly.  The more you learn of why Kay did what she did, Weaver’s skill as an actress becomes more apparent.  She tells Dr. Galen that she wanted Frank to experience great pain both physically and emotionally.  She also tells him that, though she doesn’t like admitting she’s wrong, that once she saw Frank’s actions after the surgery, she has to accept how flawed her plan was… you can’t change who a person is on the inside by changing their appearance.

The pacing of the film is excellent.  There’s a fair amount of bona fide art when scenes transition that and if you’re a graphic novel fan you’ll enjoy it particularly.  This violent narrative is so unexpected that you’ll think it sufficient and worthwhile to pitch in the hour and a half it takes to watch the story unfold.  The acting is quite good and the great Walter Hill, who has been working in films since the early 1970’s, will have you glued to the screen to see this movie’s outcome.  I subscribe to the opinion that you should give this a try… if for nothing else for the acting.


About Shari K. Green

Shari became fascinated by films when at the age of seven she saw a movie being made in front of her house. As a teenager she immersed herself in the culture of film working on stage and then became a cinephile, working in a video store. Since then she expanded into film criticism writing for the last eight years and she has now written, directed and produced several short films and is currently working on a feature film project with her production company, Good Stew Productions, which she created with a few of her friends. Her favorite movies are “The Big Chill” and “Lonely Boy” and she enjoys watching Woody Allen films above all others.

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