I’ve seen a lot of films at TIFF 2016 and one has stood-out as the worst of the fest.
Let’s bitch it out…
If there’s a pick for worst film of the festival so far, the early winner – by a lot – has to be (Re)Assignment, Walter Hill’s tone-deaf transgender action film starring Michelle Rodriguez. The film courted controversy the moment it was announced as transgender activists protested the plot, which finds Rodriguez’s Frank Kitchen, a talented hit man, surgically transformed into a woman as punishment for killing a plastic surgeon’s brother.
The film plays like a 90s action flick that goes straight to the movie network. Despite the talents of Rodriguez and the divine Sigourney Weaver as the insane doctor, the flick is straight up trash that doesn’t have a clue about the gender/identity politics that it is wading in to. The surgery (which occurs around 20 minutes into the film) is treated solely as a plot point, with little to no examination of the psychological ramifications and only some cursory, verging on derogatory dialogue from Weaver’s Dr. Rachel Kay about how important the real surgeries are (which is immediately superseded by her narcissistic claims about her status as an “artist”).
Perhaps (Re)Assignment could be forgiven if it weren’t such an inept action film. But the dialogue is stilted or just plain ridiculous, the acting outside of the principal pair (and Tony Shaloub as Ray’s prison psychiatrist) is atrocious, especially Caitlin Gerrard’s Johnnie and the directorial choices are amateurish. Black and white sequences, wipes, star wipes, still animation freeze frames and an unnecessary framing device are arbitrarily includes, despite the fact that they do absolutely nothing to tell the story; the transitions in particular seem as though Hill thought that they looked cool in post and tossed them in.
The most frustrating aspect of (Re)Assignment is that Weaver’s performance as a complete egomaniac is a hilarious delight. Weaver’s haughty delivery of Dr. Kay’s take-downs are worthy of a larger audience, but due to the film’s controversy and poor quality, it will likely go unseen. If Hill had simply made Kitchen a female assassin, the film would have turned out nearly the same…except of course it wouldn’t have the same controversial advertising hook. Shame on them.