Monday, March 06, 2017

'The Assignment' Has This Ridicuously Insane, Original Premise

I decided to watch this B-(C? D?)movie because of its interesting, insane premise: a hitman is forcibly given a sex change, and as response, he – now a “she” – goes on a vengeful warpath.  Though it somewhat reminded me of the twist of the Spanish psychological thriller film The Skin I Live In, I thought that this was a creatively original setup for a revenge thriller movie.

The Assignment (also known as Tomboy: A Revenger’s Tale and (Re) Assignment) centers on the ridiculously unique experience of contract killer Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez), as he is subjected to a sex reassignment surgery against his will by the sociopathic Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver) – partially, out of  revenge for her brother whom Kitchen killed, but also for the purpose of conducting an experiment assessing gender identity.  Of course, Frank is ballistic after being atrociously violated, and proceeds to seek and kill everyone that has a hand on it.
By any objective barometer, this is a terrible movie.  There’s an obvious effort to be surprising and clever, I’ll give it that.  But the story is extremely stupid.  Dr. Kay is supposed to be this Shakespeare-quoting, mad genius-type visionary that has developed the smoothest, fastest, most inexpensive, and most efficient sex-change process, but the script failed to believably sell this.  If the movie at least tried to be a bit science fiction-y, it could have worked better.  And if there was an attempt (not sure, if there was or if it was only an incidental implication) to have a “gender isn’t defined by genitals” message in it, it was pretentious and fundamentally flawed in its argument.

The cheap production value is obvious all throughout.  But this fact is at its most distractingly apparent in the practical effects exerted on giving Michelle Rodriguez a male look (prior her character’s sex-change).  Its sorry attempt of prosthetics and makeup failed miserably to hide Rodriguez’s feminine physique.  Heck, they even gave her a fake beard and penis!  The “special effects” – if we can call them as such – are so laughably bad.
One minor aesthetic triumph that this movie has though is some attempt to have a gritty, neo-noir, “graphic novel”-type atmosphere (like a poor man’s Sin City).  But this only manifests a few times in the movie.  Most of the time, the flow is a mess.  This is not an exaggeration, but based on several scene transitions, this movie looks like it was edited at some parts using the Microsoft Windows Movie Maker software.

However, I would be lying if I say that it has no entertainment value.  It has some of that.  There’s some hovering sense of intrigue in this movie.  But a gratifying connection with it is never made.  The action scenes are also unfortunately sub-par.
The premise definitely has that fresh-and-fascinating promise.  And it also has solid stars in Rodriguez and Weaver.  The only things actually lacking were a well-written script, a more inspired direction, and a higher budget.  If these had been the case, an actual good movie would probably have been the result.

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