Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub trade long speeches in failing 'Assignment'

  • Tomboy (Michelle Rodriguez) used to be a macho hitman until an insane surgeon turned him into a woman during Walter Hill's action thriller "The Assignment."

    Tomboy (Michelle Rodriguez) used to be a macho hitman until an insane surgeon turned him into a woman during Walter Hill's action thriller "The Assignment."

 
 
Posted4/6/2017 6:00 AM

The seamy characters in Walter Hill's cracked-out crazy, low-budget, neo-noiry thriller "The Assignment" don't share conversations.

They exchange protracted expository speeches that sound like a playwright's explanation notes at the beginning of a play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Take psychiatrist Dr. Galen (Tony Shalhoub), whose interview with master criminal and plastic surgeon Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver) goes on forever, and is filled with so much plot and character information that Kay finally stops him, saying, "Do you feel relieved you've gotten all that off your shoulders?"

Kay, a supersmart, condescending female Hannibal Lecter (minus the cannibalism) has been placed in a straitjacket and confined to a mental institution after surviving a mass killing in an illegal hospital in San Francisco. (The movie was actually shot in Canada.)

She claims a mystery man named Frank Kitchen did it. But the cops can't find him.

That's because (and this doesn't spoil the movie) Kay has removed Kitchen's dude parts and surgically altered the super macho hitman into a fatal femme fatale.

"The Assignment" (also titled "Tomboy" and "(re) Assignment," both better choices) does not explore transgender identity issues.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It's more of an exploitative Frankenstein revenge tale about a plastic surgeon punishing a well-endowed, macho hitman for killing her brother (Adrian Hough).

Manly Frank and womanly Frank -- now called Tomboy -- are both played by action star Michelle Rodriguez, who looks a little silly wearing a fake beard at the beginning.

But once Kay alters Frank, Rodriguez ably suggests her character's masculinity in her raw physicality and movement.

"The Assignment" utilizes clumsy, comic book graphics as transitional elements. (The cartoony screenplay by Hill and Dennis Hamill was made a graphic novel in France).

The actors, even Anthony LaPaglia as a thug named "Honest John," almost wince at the dialogue they spit out.

"You're becoming a tiresome bore!" Weaver says, keeping a straight face.

"I killed lots of guys!" says Rodriguez in Frank's hard-boiled, voice-over narration. "They were worthless pieces of (poop) but I killed them!"

Hey, maybe this could become a cult movie.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.