TIFF 2016: (re) ASSIGNMENT Review

Special Presentations

The latest movie from action movie icon Walter Hill (The Warriors, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs.) is a deeply strange beast. Both campy and deadly serious, it’s a movie that will inspires more giggles than thrills and yet that’s part of the fun. This isn’t one of those rock solid action romps that Hill built his reputation with. It’s a sloppier affair, yet an undeniably strange and entertaining one, if not always for the reasons that the filmmaker intended. 

Michelle Rodriguez stars as a hitman who is kidnapped by a psychotic surgeon (Sigourney Weaver) and involuntarily turned into a woman. That’s a pretty insane concept and the sort of thing that likely would have been more easily accepted a few decades ago rather than in today’s climate. Hill goes out of his way to make the movie as over-the-top as possible, using illustrated comic book panel transitions like his oddball Warriors “director’s cut,” breaking the story up into flashbacks within flashbacks wrapped in flashforwards, and making his actors deliver insane lines deathly seriously. There are times when the movie feels playfully tongue-in-cheek (particularly whenever Sigourney Weaver is involved) and times when it seems as though Hill intends viewers to somehow take the material seriously. 

Rodriguez cuts an imposing presence as always when she’s on the hunt for revenge; however the scenes in which she dons a beard to create the character before surgery never quite work. The gender politics are of course rather uncomfortably out of date. Yet, it’s all presented as such goofball pulp it’s hard to take any of it seriously enough to ever get offended. If Hill intended to (Re)Assignment to be an acid trip campy ride through old revenge and noir movie clichés, then he succeeded in creating some hilariously unhinged insanity. If this is just supposed to be a straightforward thriller, then things went radically out of control. Either way, it’s fun stuff. Just make sure that you enjoy irony before signing up.

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Screening:

Wednesday Sept. 14, 6:00pm @ Ryerson

Friday Sept. 16, 3:30pm @ Hot Docs

Saturday Sept. 17, 9:30pm @ Hot Docs

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