Let us begin with review with a gritty, self-filmed video diary wherein the protagonist tries to process the bizarre and tragic events that have recently taken place.
If the movie jumps back and forth between formats with no warning, then I can too.
On to the text review!
I regret paying money for this movie. If it hadn’t been for the Q&A with director Walter Hill after this movie’s screening at Cinequest, which did give me some material, I would have taken advantage of this movie’s availability online and skipped paying for a ticket. I don’t regret seeing it, since at least it was entertainingly corny and oblivious, but I feel like (Re)Assignment (or “Tomboy” or “The Assignment” according to IMDB) hasn’t brought anything good into the world and may have brought harm to an already vulnerable community.
I’ll get the plot out of the way as quickly as possible (and not muck it up with bizarre shifts forward and backward in time like the movie does). A hitman named Frank Kitchen (Michelle Rodriguez) offs the brother of a psychotic doctor. Said doctor (Sigourney Weaver) pays off his bosses and performs non-consensual surgery on Frank to make his appearance feminine. Understandably pissed off at the situation, Frank embarks on a mission of revenge to shoot up the bosses who betrayed him, the doctor, and her staff.
On the Technical Side
There are many levels of badness in this film, it’s hard to know where to start because they all play into each other.
"I wanted to cause Frank Kitchen enormous psychic pain." (Pain so bad it can see into the future?)
Most noticeably, no one in this film knows how to speak human. No line of dialog sounds like something a real person would actually say. On top of this, at least 50 percent of the dialog is exposition. Characters exposit at the most bizarre and unlikely moments—such as when Frank’s one-night-stand turned girlfriend delivers a detailed explanation of her ties to the doctor character while a gun is being pointed at her head. I don’t blame actor Caitlin Gerard because there was no way to make a person rambling on about irrelevant details not destroy all the tension in the scene.
The film takes place on two separate timelines: one with Frank enacting his bloodbath of vengeance, and the other with the doctor explaining the whole thing to a psychiatrist played by Tony Shalhoub. (Seeing Weaver and Shalhoub together is depressing by the way, because you just know they’re remembering “Galaxy Quest” and thinking “Remember how we starred together in an actually clever and good movie?”)
Image taken from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0177789/?ref_=nv_sr_1
There’s a weak subplot about no one else believing Frank exists, but we audience members know he does so that angle seems pointless. The real point of the scenes with the doctor is to deliver the bulk of the movie's exposition. Weaver seems beyond checked out. At a few points (such as when she quips, “Aren’t you glad you got that off your chest” after particularly stupid exposition dump) she actually seems to be griping about the movie itself. It’s like her old friend Walter Hill roped her into doing this project with him and she was like, “Fine. But don't expect me to act.”
Image taken from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5034474/?ref_=nv_sr_1
On the acting side, in spite of being already hampered by the clunky dialog, many actors go above and beyond to give the most camp and/or bored performance possible. Michelle Rodriquez delivers another cocktail of awkwardness with a raspy voice that sound like bad imitation of a 13-year-old boy. Her character must be 25 or 30, but never sounds like an adult male. When a character is supposed to be intimidating, "How old are you?" is not the question you want the audience to be asking.
Because apparently the filmmakers couldn’t get enough of Rodriguez rasping through her lines, the movie includes an entirely pointless video essay from the main character that takes place after the main plotline ( but whether before or after the doctor plotline is unclear). The video essays show up a good chunk into the movie and seems to come out of nowhere.
Let's take a quick break to talk about Michelle Rodriguez' performance in a pants role.
Which brings me to the editing. During the Q&A, director Walter Hill said he wanted to make a “comic book movie.” Unfortunately, they made a comic book movie in the style of "Suicide Squad." Both movies employ comic book style illustrations that seem out of place and do nothing to further the story. Both contain confusing scene shifts and characters that exist only dump exposition.