The Assignment

Here’s a 40 years old script that feels ripped from the virtual headlines.

This film is being marketed as a thriller, but that’s not a good moniker. Since it also contains scenes of the protagonist petting dogs, pointing guns at people and explosions, you might think this is a female version of John Wick. Nothing more wrong. That is simply a smokescreen for the real themes of the film, what is gender, and does it have anything to do with the genitals you possess.

The setup is that Frank Kitchen is John Wick without the dog, a being without redeeming characteristics. Someone who can shoot people in cold blood and still get to bars in time for hooking up with loose women, like this Johnnie girl. The vagaries of destiny lead him to piss off The Doctor (M.D., not Who), and she turns him into a woman. Since Frank is the ultimate testosterone man, a person used to being the most powerful person in the room, how will he react to being literally emasculated against him will? Seeking revenge is the answer, but it’s the how that the film explores. He tries to call Johnnie up and she does answer, leading to a period of relative calm that even Frank finds odd. Of course, having Johnnie being a plant for The Doctor sends mixed messages, but I chose to interpret that as falling in love with the mark.

Mixed with this story is The Doctor trying to legally escape the mental facility she starts the film in.

As for the more “technical” characteristics, the production values are modest and there’s not much visual candy for your eyes to feast on. The performances more than make up for it, and Michelle Rodriguez should get at least an Oscar nomination for this. Sigourney Weaver doesn’t need more praise, but she sells the Sherlock persona her character is supposed to embody, “I’m so much smarter than all of you, I’m bored by your mere existence”.

The film got some heat from the perpetually offended, and Walter Hill did an interview with Rolling Stone where he cops out and says it’s just a B-movie. I say boo to that, why should one be ashamed of addressing certain themes considered taboo, is this the Victorian times again?


This is my place for ramblings about sequences of images that exploit the human visual limitation know as persistence of vision.

Ephemera of Vision