Ladies and gentlemen, here is a movie that is going to piss a lot of people off. The first trailer for The Assignment has arrived and it’s just as tasteless and cringe-worthy as the longline would lead you to believe. From legendary genre director Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Driver and 48 Hours, among others), The Assignment stars Michelle Rodriguez as Frank Kitchen, an ace hitman who sets out a revenge spree after he is captured by a sadistic, amoral surgeon (Sigourney Weaver) and subject to a forced gender reassignment surgery. Oof. Not great, Bob. (You can read Phil’s full review here.)
The film was originally called Tomboy, then (Re)Assignment and finally the generic The Assignment, which seems destined to lure in a lot of people who have no idea what they’re getting into. As you might expect, it’s already taken some heat from trans advocacy groups for casting a cisgender woman in the lead role in addition to the obvious indelicateness of the plot. There’s no official U.S. release date, but for now, you can check out the trailer and get your cringe on below.
I’m always conflicted when it comes to overtly provocative garbage like this. It’s offensive and rude and inconsiderate, but as someone who grew up fascinated with exploitation cinema, the Marquis de Sade, and the tradition of crass, crude provocateurs, I have a soft spot for such purely insane and uncompromising trash. That said, in a time when trans rights are still struggling to take shape, my own self-indulgent interest in button-putting sleaze holds no weight next to the needs of a community in an unending battle for acceptance.
Plus, it’s not necessarily the idea that’s offensive, it’s the execution. And it looks like The Assignment is just swinging blindly in that regard. Pedro Almodovar‘s extraordinary The Skin I Live in played with a lot of similar themes and subject matters, but it did it in a thoughtful and sympathetic way that offered a little commentary on gender culture and human nature in addition to its lurid plot points. I think The Assignment is pretty much a surface-level revenger that’s pretty unconcerned with soul-searching commentary.