Blu-ray: The Assignment

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Walter Hill | CAST: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Anthony LaPaglia, Caitlin Gerard
RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2017 | PRICE: DVD $13.46, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $18.99
BONUSES: photo montage
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Crime thriller | 2.39:1 widescreen | DTS Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  ½ | Audio  | Video 
Overall ½


The Assignment
, Walter Hill’s (Hard Times, The Long Riders) first feature since 2012’s serviceable Bullet to the Head with Sly Stallone, isn’t a great movie, but it’s nutty and audacious and can already be regarded as a bona fide cult flick.

Bad-ass bearded hit man Frank Kitchen (Fast and Furious franchise’s Michelle Rodriguez—that’s right, Michelle Rodriguez) is given an assignment, but after finishing the job, he’s doubled crossed…in a way he couldn’t have imagined. Waking in a cheap motel room, the battered and weakened Kitchen discovers he’s been surgically altered and now has the body and face of a woman. With a taste for vengeance and a few possible leads, Kitchen works his way through a bunch of thugs, crooks and mobsters for a showdown with the person who transformed him, an insane but brilliant surgeon (Sigourney Weaver, Aliens) with her own twisted agenda.

Michelle Rodriguez in The Assignment

Set in the same kind of neo-noir milieu as his Johnny Handsome (where cosmetic surgery also figures in the mix) and, to a lesser extent, such earlier entries as The Driver and 48 Hrs., The Assignment is lean, nasty and, yeah, sleazy criminal revenge thriller. Though Rodriguez’s character isn’t re-assigned a new gender as much as he has his physical exterior surgically altered from male-to-female, the transgender issue remains front and center. For those who are irked by the idea of one of the most ass-kicking-est filmmakers taking on the subject, the simple fact that Rodriguez ventilates a slew of nasty men and is undeniably tougher in female form than she ever was as a man should alleviate any issues. (Typically, the movie’s original titles were Tomboy: A Revenger’s Story, and then (re)Assignment, are both better than its theatrical moniker).

The performers are solid, particularly Rodriguez, who appears to have never met a gun she doesn’t fire or a face she doesn’t smash, along with a Weaver, whose Shakespeare-spouting, scalpel-wielding doctor is genuinely loony. Anthony LaPaglia and Tony Shalhoub are good enough, but I’ll give them a pass as Hill and co-writer Denis Hamill’s screenplay relies more on its scenario then on its often silly noir-ish dialogue.

While The Assignment is definitely worth a look-see, Hill’s fans will be disappointed with the action scenes, which, though effective, don’t have the panache and wallop we’ve come to expect from one of Hollywood’s premiere shoot-out and fight stylists. I’m going to place some of that blame on editor Philip Norden…

The only bonus feature is a collection of stills, labelled as “Filmmaking Portraits.” For those interested in more info, hit the web to easily find interviews with Hill and Rodriguez talking about the film.

Buy or Rent The Assignment

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.