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Film / The Assignment (2016)

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The Assignment is a 2016 action drama film starring Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver as a hitman and psychotic doctor respectively. The film starts with Dr. Rachel Jane (Weaver) being held in a psychiatric institution involuntarily, having been judged incompetent to stand trial on a number of charges related to operating an illegal clinic where several people were killed. She recounts what led to her coming there for Dr. Ralph Galen (Tony Shalhoub) the psychiatrist assigned to assess her. Jane relates how her brother Sebastian was killed by the hitman Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez) for unpaid debts to criminals. Through an underworld contact, Jane has Frank kidnapped. After this, she performed an involuntary sex reassignment rendering him physically female for revenge. He wakes up in a hotel room and discovers this to his horror, before setting out for revenge on her in turn.

This film provides examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Everybody who Frank murders (except for maybe Sebastian, but even he's a jerk who threw away the money that his sister provided to pay his debt) are criminals whom he notes no one will miss.
  • Attempted Rape: Post sex reassignment, Frank is nearly raped by the sleazy owner of the hotel that he was put in. Frank overpowers and beats up the guy, then flees the premises.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Post unwilling sex reassignment, Frank appears in a very attractive female form (played by Michelle Rodriguez in both cases, though the first in makeup obviously).
  • Big Bad: Dr. Rachel Jane, the main villain of the film, who's a mad doctor.
  • Big "NO!": Frank yells this after seeing he's been made physically female.
  • Body Horror: Being made physically female serves as this for Frank, especially at first.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Dr. Rachel Jane, instead of killing Frank (possibly after extended surgical torture) subjects him to an involuntary sex reassignment and leaves him alive that way, with ample ability to track her down. Later, when her mooks catch him, they also didn't search him at all it seems since they miss his hidden gun which he uses to shoot them after waking up.
  • Crosscast Role: Michelle Rodriguez plays Frank, a male hitman (by means of a fake beard and some prosthetics initially) who's subjected to an Easy Sex Change by a Mad Doctor who wanted revenge on him because he had killed her brother. For the rest of the film, he looks like Rodriguez normally does (obviously the reason for this).
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: If Jane could perform an Easy Sex Change that could make you look like Michelle Rodriguez, she should have been able to make enough money to buy whatever revenge she wanted.
  • Easy Sex Change: It's unclear just how long, but within very little time Jane performs a full set of sex reassignment surgeries on Frank, altering his cheeks, throat, nose and genitals. This isn't possible, willing or not, as he'd need time for recovery from each one. There's no indication that he was held very long however. Of course, since he's played by Michelle Rodriguez, he comes out with her appearance (which is also implausible).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dr. Rachel Jane is coldly indifferent to most people, and views them as simply test subjects. However, she still feels something for her brother, and sought out the hitman who killed him in revenge. That hitman in question, Frank, is also an example. He has a girlfriend he's obviously fond of, and takes care of a pit bull who'd been forced to fight. Additionally, he's got some close Latino friends.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Frank is a hitman who freely admits he's bad and has killed many people. Dr. Rachel Jane, his nemesis, is a mad doctor who experimented on homeless people for medical research, and subjects him to involuntary sex reassignment for revenge when Frank kills her brother.
  • Fan Disservice: Michelle Rodriguez as Frank shows full frontal nudity. However, as it's after he had been heavily bandaged and underwent extensive surgery, along with them being entirely unwilling procedures which freak him out, this is far less sexy than might be the case otherwise.
  • Fanservice Extra: Near the beginning, Sebastian has a sex worker over in very revealing clothes. Frank's girlfriend Johnnie also appears briefly topless, and he interrupts one of his targets having sex with a naked Asian woman.
  • Fingore: In the very last scene, it's revealed that Frank cut off Jane's fingers after shooting her (presumably so she couldn't do surgery ever again).
  • Frame-Up: After shooting Jane's mooks, Frank makes it appear like her assistant killed them before being shot himself by putting the murder weapon into his hand. The police buy this, and don't believe her that he did it.
  • Gender Bender Angst: Frank is very unhappy he was subjected to a forced sex reassignment, and even looks into a surgery that could at least somewhat undo this. However, he settles for vengeance against the mad doctor who did this instead as he's told it would never be the same.
  • Gender Bender: Frank gets a full sex reassignment via magic plastic surgery, and the result is him then going from physically male to looking like Michelle Rodriguez (who played him in both cases).
  • Get Out!: Frank yells this to one of his allies.
  • Guns Akimbo: Frank wields guns in both hands multiple times during the film.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Frank is shown to have a soft side. He's got some good friends, loves dogs (adopting one who'd been used for fighting) and displays genuine affection for his girlfriend.
  • Hollywood Law: Dr. Rachel Jane is said to have been ruled incompetent to stand trial, so she's put into a mental institution instead, where a psychiatrist evaluates her to see if she's become competent (he decides she's not after attacking him). We see no indication she would be incompetent though, which simply means that they are able to understand the proceedings and aid in their defense. Jane is quite intelligent, so there's every indication she could do both of those things. Being ruled incompetent usually requires that a defendant be severely mentally impaired from disability, a mental illness, brain damage or senility.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: After his unwanted sex reassignment, Frank gets back at Dr. Jane by mutilating her hands so she could never operate again.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: After Frank's unwilling sex reassignment surgery, his girlfriend Johnnie has no problem continuing their relationship, suggesting this.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: After his involuntary surgery, Frank tries to have sex with his girlfriend (having been made physically female). However, he isn't able to feel anything, and consults a doctor who tells him sensation won't come back for around six months.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Rachel Jane is an arrogant though highly skilled surgeon with delusions of grandeur who's been stripped of her license for illegal experiments. After that, she operates illegally in an underground clinic, performing more experiments on homeless people for what she claims is advancing medical knowledge. However, when a hitman murders her brother, she subjects him to a sex reassignment both to punish and change him (supposedly) for the better. After he kills most of her employees, plus shooting her, in revenge, she's found out by the police and sent to a mental institution.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Frank (Michelle Rodriguez heavily made up to look male) becomes a female version of himself physically (Rodriguez as herself) after undergoing involuntary sex reassignment surgeries. This would in reality require long recovery time between each procedure and have visible scarring (the mad doctor who did it was just that good).
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Early on Frank shows this stepping out of the shower, perhaps to emphasize his appearance before he's given an unwilling sex reassignment.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Frank feels up his new breasts after realizing what's happened, while looking at himself in the mirror. He seems more repelled than anything however.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Rachel Jane was a surgeon whose unethical and illegal experiments meant she lost her license. This didn't stop her though-she just went underground with them. However, this is contrasted with normal psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Gales who's assessing her and considers what she did completely wrong and notes she betrayed her oath as a physician.
  • The Needs of the Many: Dr. Rachel Jane says her experiments on homeless people were for this, to advance medical knowledge which would benefit millions. Their lives, in comparison, meant nothing to her.
  • Pet the Dog: Literally when Frank kills a Russian dog fighter and adopts the pooch, due to having a soft spot for dogs. And again when he learns Johnnie's partly responsible for what happened to him, but is too in love with her to execute her, so he sends her off to Reno for safety and possibly a new life.
  • Professional Killer: Frank Kitchen is a hitman, and the plot is sparked by him murdering Dr. Rachel Jane's brother over an unpaid debt he owed to criminals.
  • Revenge: Dr. Rachel Jane wants revenge on Frank, the hitman who murdered her brother. So she gets a crime lord to kidnap him, then performs a sex reassignment (partly to "help" him in her view). He's horrified, then seeks revenge on her in turn, along with employees of the gangster who helped kidnap him for Jane, then them and also her mooks.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After learning what was done to him, Frank goes after the criminal employees of gangster "Honest John" who helped Dr. Jane to do this, killing them off before he gets John himself, then Jane and her mooks after this. Jane survives, but is left stuck in a mental institution with no fingers, courtesy of Frank cutting them off.
  • Tomboyish Name: Johnnie, Frank's girlfriend. It's unclear if this is short for anything. Aside from this however she isn't a tomboy at all in her appearance or actions.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: Johnnie takes it to extreme heights, as she's completely unperturbed by Frank's new appearance, and has no questions or comments beyond noting how different he looks when she first sees him post sex reassignment. She stays with him afterward, completely accepting, without hesitation. It also seems she's entirely aware that he's a hitman, and doesn't mind at all. Then it's revealed that she was the one to set him up for the surgery in the first place at the behest of Dr. Jane, whom she'd been working for the whole time getting her the drugs for her experiments, and stayed around him to keep an eye on him.
  • Understatement: Frank's girlfriend notes that he looks different after his involuntary sex reassignment, but makes no further comment. This is putting it very mildly. It's a wonder she recognized him. Before he had a beard and larger nose, as the most obvious examples.
  • Villain Protagonist: Frank admits right in the opening voiceover monologue that he's a bad guy, and has probably deserved even more than what was done to him after he killed so many people. However, he isn't completely bad, and is seeking revenge on people that are on his level or even worse than him.