(re)Assignment goes straight into the nitty gritty of a topic that society has just recently become open to discuss. This crude film has a hard time bringing in audience members and the reason is clear as day. While a crime thriller is nothing new, nor is the idea of a psychotic yet brilliant woman gone villainous new, the idea of changing someone from a macho thug into a woman for revenge and research is something unheard of, let alone a comfortable subject.
Directer Walter Hill has taken an enormous risk with this Canadian indie. At no point during the writing and filming of this dark tale did they think they’d have an easy time getting this film into theatres, even streaming sites and cable will be a hard market. That being said, the risk was worth taking. Hill presents a film with two beautiful, talented actresses who captivate you without a lot of action throughout the film.
Dr. Rachel Jane (Sigourney Weaver) is a disgraced plastic surgeon who is now a patient of Dr. Galen (Tony Shalhoub) at a California mental institution. She claims to be framed for the murder of her body guards and criminal anesthesiologist. She constantly denies having murdered the men, instead she blames a man who seems to be made up named Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez).
Throughout the film there are constant 70’s throwbacks from the animated scene transitions to Frank, a scruffy ponytailed hitman who makes the mistake of pulling a “job” on Dr. Jane’s brother after he failed to pay some serious debts, thus causing the doctor to seek revenge. She hires a mob leader to lock down Franks whereabouts, then proceeds to kidnap and performs an unwanted sex change.
Frank then wakes up in a dingy hotel to realize he’s now a woman and, frankly, isn’t happy about it. He seeks help from his one-night-stand Johnnie (Caitlin Gerard) who is surprisingly calm to find the man she had recently slept with has been turned into a woman. With Johnnie taking care of Frank medically he proceeds on with his mission to find out what happened to him and get revenge.
In the final act both women, women being Frank and Dr. Jane, confess to their crimes. Dr. Jane admits to Dr. Galen for turning Frank into a woman, although with no evidence to prove the events she’s again thrown back into the psychiatric hospital, and Frank admits to the crimes for which Dr. Jane is accused as well as a surprising yet deserved spin.
(re)Assignments is hard to swallow, yet witty, Hill provides a new look at the revenge thriller genre. He also brings to life a compelling story that many aren’t ready to see yet. The acting is well done as expected with such talents as Rodriguez and Weaver. Be prepared to finish the movie and have questions that can only be theorized, but you will also come out satisfied in the sense that for once we aren’t given a story that is soft as many films are when they touch on such subjects as transgender.