Possibly this year’s most controversial release, The Assignment debuted at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival to mixed reviews and some protests from the transgender community. There’s still no official release date from U.S. distributor Saban Films, but a trailer has just made its way online, and we’ll let you judge for yourself on its subject matter.
The Assignment, which used to be titled (Re) Assignment, stars Michelle Rodriguez as the new physical form of Frank, a male hitman for the mafia who wakes up to find himself turned female. In biological terms anyway. In these times of greater discourse on gender identity and trans persons, it’s tricky how to address a character who still identifies as a man but received a forced sex change.
Sigourney Weaver plays the surgeon who did the procedure, revenge for Frank killing her brother. We can also assume Frank was a misogynist or at least the kind of tough guy who would be most upset about being turned into a woman. That would make it reminiscent of the 1991 Blake Edwards comedy Switch, where a sexist man is reincarnated as Ellen Barkin to spite him.
There’s also Anthony LaPaglia as a gangster who betrayed Frank, Caitlin Gerard as Frank’s girlfriend and Tony Shaloub as a psychiatrist who interrogates Weaver’s character about what she’s done. And the movie is directed by Walter Hill (The Warriors), who first optioned the idea in the 1970s under the title Tomboy. He also turned the story into a graphic novel, which is out in March.