A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Assignment is an action/thriller with a potentially controversial topic: The main character, a hit man, is given gender reassignment surgery against his will, changing from a man into a woman. The content is extremely mature, including graphic nudity (both male and female full frontal), bloody shootings, beatings, and killings, and brief but semi-graphic sex scenes (both opposite-sex and same-sex). Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole," and some characters are shown using drugs. And the main character has scenes of hard drinking during stressful moments. That said, the movie itself is skillful and, though inauthentic and somewhat irresponsible, it's possible that it could become a cult classic.
What's the story?
In THE ASSIGNMENT, a prickly, Shakespeare-and-Poe-quoting surgeon, Dr. Rachel Kay (Sigourney Weaver), lives in a mental hospital and is interviewed by Dr. Ralph Galen (Tony Shalhoub). She tells her story in flashback. Her brother, in trouble with gangsters, becomes the target of a hit man named Frank Kitchen. Dr. Kay subsequently kidnaps Frank and performs gender reassignment surgery on him. She does this partly as revenge and partly to see what Kitchen might do with this "fresh start." And so Kitchen awakens as a woman (Michelle Rodriguez), and, after searching for a way to reverse the procedure (and failing), decides to get her revenge on everyone connected to Dr. Kay -- all the way up to dangerous, well-protected gangster "Honest John" (Anthony LaPaglia).
Is it any good?
On the one hand, this thriller starts out with a ludicrous, wrong-headed idea, but on the other hand, as directed by Walter Hill, it's so skillful and pulpy that it could become a cult classic. Certainly The Assignment (the title changed from (Re)Assignment) is inauthentic, and the surgery is initially viewed as a punishment or a setback. And the timing of the movie's release, when real-life discrimination is the norm against transgender people, isn't ideal. But it's clear that this isn't a hateful movie.
Hill -- who first worked with Weaver on Alien (1979), which he produced -- is best known for directing action classics The Warriors and 48 Hrs., as well as the recent Bullet to the Head. His filmmaking here is rugged, hard, and snappy, delivering a "B" movie punch right out of days gone by; it even includes transitions designed to look like comic-book panels. A theme in most of Hill's films involves characters who find themselves in unfamiliar territory. And Rodriguez is no different; she's a tough hero that anyone can sympathize with and root for.
Talk to your kids about ...
What is the film's take on gender reassignment surgery and transgender people? Do you think it's accurate? How could you find out more?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.