Add movie critics to the list of people offended by Michelle Rodriguez's transgender action flick "The Assignment," which hit a limited amount of theaters across the country on Friday.
GLAAD and the transgender community was already bothered by the premise -- a doctor (Sigourney Weaver) gets revenge on a male hitman (Rodriguez) by giving him unwanted gender reassignment surgery, then said hitman goes on a killing spree for her own revenge -- but the majority of critics counted on Rotten Tomatoes are more bothered by the execution of the entire movie.
"'The Assignment's' premise is bizarrely intriguing; unfortunately, it's also just one of many ingredients fumbled in a disappointing misfire from director Walter Hill," the critic aggregating site wrote for its "critics consensus." With 31 out of 42 reviews being declared "rotten," the movie is sitting not-so-pretty with just a 26 percent approval rating.
"The Assignment," formerly called "(Re)Assignment" when it premiered last fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been described by critics as "absolutely batshit insane," "incomprehensible" and an "embarrassment."
"Brazenly tasteless and ridiculous, there are plenty of reasons to dismiss and dislike the latest feature from action movie pioneer Walter Hill. 'The Assignment' is a project that he has apparently spent 40 years developing, but it feels more like something that should have been made all those decades ago rather than a project that needed time to percolate. Yet there's something charmingly sleazy about this absolutely batshit insane project as well, criticizing itself through a fantastically evil performance by Sigourney Weaver in a way that suggests a certain level of self-aware camp in addition to cheap thrills. It's tough to say if Hill did it all deliberately, yet it's also equally tough to be bored by the results whether you like them or not."
"When films are not just bad but incompetent, incoherent and incomprehensible, you start to wonder whether an actual human being was in charge or if a group of monkeys was given free rein on a soundstage for a month and this is what they produced. Such is the case with [re]Assignment (previously Tomboy), a B-movie in which the b stands for bad, a film made with such staggering idiocy that it deserves to be studied by future generations for just how and why it ever got made."
"Nor is it enough to excuse a pulpy picture that uses transgender issues for a cheap plot gimmick. That last exploitation has brought protests almost from the moment the film was announced, both from those who thought it shouldn't be made at all to those who wanted a real transgender performer cast in the lead. It led to calls for a boycott and left Hill a little weary, even as the film limped into its premiere at last September's Toronto Film Festival. "I understand the concern," he confessed to Rolling Stone at the time. "Is it lurid? Yes. Is it lowbrow? Well, maybe. Is it offensive? No." He skirted the real question, though: Is it worth seeing? To which the answer is a total, and decisive, not on your life."
"It's not just that the subject matter is unsavory, it's that everything about 'The Assignment' (originally titled 'Re-Assignment') is generic and lazy. Kitchen is painted as a world class killer, although we never see any evidence of his high-level skills or evasive tactics. Hill is too concerned with getting his jollies over the supposedly taboo subject matter to care. 'The Assignment' is an embarrassment all around, a murky, regrettable piece of gutter cinema. Next year's Razzie Awards race starts here."
"The film's concept of transgendered life could be out of a 50-year-old exploitation film; if "(Re)Assignment played more like a spoof of vintage pulp and less like a tacky rehash of it, that choice could have worked. Instead, it just comes off as clueless — about gender as well as filmmaking, which shouldn't be possible from the man who directed "The Warriors," "48 Hrs.," and "The Driver." Some moments are so baffling — like the scene where Frank randomly adopts a dog and then says 'Now I have a dog!' in his hardboiled voiceover — that "(Re)Assignment" could easily become a future so-bad-it's-good midnight movie favorite."
"Given the subject matter, there may be some questions about how delicately or not the film handles its transgender lead character. Fortunately, the film is far too dumb to cause any offense, except perhaps on good taste, but Hill wants it to be clear his film isn't political, having the speechifying Rachel pontificate at one point about proper art being able to stand on style alone. It's the director speaking clearly through one of his characters, but if Hill wants us to simply consider '(Re)Assignment' based on its aesthetics, he has clearly overestimated what he has brought to the table."
"With trans issues recently having entered mainstream discourse, certainly not every fictive treatment need be as nuanced as Oscar-nominated 'Transamerica' or Emmy-winning “Transparent.” Still, nobody — not even viewers willing to settle for good, unclean B-movie fun — is done any favors by something as crude as '(re)Assignment,' which gracelessly mashes together hardboiled crime-melodrama cliches and an unintentionally funny 'Oh no! I'm a chick now!!' gender-change narrative hook. Not a return to peak form for veteran Hollywood helmer Walter Hill, this cheesy Canadian indie contraption was picked up at the Cannes market for a TBA U.S. theatrical release. But it will be pressing its luck in formats beyond streaming and cable, despite the marquee names of Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver, neither of whom are well-served here."