“The Assignment” goes both ways

Frank Kitchen pointing a fun at the deranged and vengeful Dr. Rachel Kay in an exhilarating and dramatic scene.

Frank Kitchen pointing a fun at the deranged and vengeful Dr. Rachel Kay in an exhilarating and dramatic scene.

“The Assignment” was released on Friday, April 7, and was directed by the well-known Walter Hill, considered by many to be among the elite filmmakers of this generation. “The Assignment” entered the box office with an unsettling buzz about the premise and its impact on the transgender community it was likely to offend (for obvious reasons as opposed to others).

But the outcry and anger from critics and filmgoers alike, doesn’t live up to the hype in my opinion. This film does have its moments of bad execution and could easily be considered, at best, a B list film, but the sheer power of Hill and his team deserve credit when considering the skillful acting of Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver) and Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez).

And what is this touchy premise that has the transgender community in a debatable fluster you ask? Protagonist Frank Kitchen is a rough and tumble hitman from San Francisco who is tasked with neutralizing Dr. Rachel Kay’s brother. Dr. Kay was recently fired and terminated for conducting rogue experiments that many considered to be malpractice.

In her distress, she seeks the help of criminal Honest John Hartunian (Anthony LaPaglia) to abduct Kitchen and bring him to her secret laboratory where she will perform gender reassignment surgery. The point of this seemingly bizarre premise is backed up by the notion that this surgery will totally dismantle Kitchen’s desire to kill people. After realizing what has happened, Frank decides to go on an all out vendetta, embarking on a killing spree to seek revenge on every person involved in this travesty.

It is understandable why some criticize this film but the “The Assignment” is nowhere near as offensive as most may seem. For one thing, to suggest that Frank Kitchen characterizes or generalizes all transgendered people is ludicrous because his physical attributes change very little.

Also, there is little to no forced emphasis on the mannerisms of before and after the surgery. It is merely a film with forced gender reassignment surgery that is creating and perpetuating a stereotype for simple shits and giggles. In other words, the uproar isn’t convincing and people just want to stir the pot due to the social climate of such a topic.

That aside, there are a few cinematic errors that are more unsettling and offensive to any movie buff. First, in the few scenes where Michelle Rodriguez plays her male self she does have some interesting makeup. Through the little amounts of makeup, you could clearly see the outline of a famous hollywood actress.

Even at first glance, a blind person could easily see that a women was playing this role. The beard she had was extremely unconvincing and she did little to nothing to change the feminine tone in her voice. I couldn’t help but chuckle at one particular scene where they show his/her genitalia, not the movie’s finest moment… 

Once she gets the reassignment surgery her performance greatly improves. We have seen Michelle Rodriguez do some pretty badass acting, showing moments of brute force in movies such as the Fast and Furious franchise. She continues her gritty persona in this film which make for some pretty high octane action.

On the other hand, Sigourney Weaver portrays a condescending and revenge-ridden doctor to the tee. I could easily see this film being revered by the many critics that have already come out, no pun intended, and claim that its “offensive” nature makes it any less of a film.