This weekend The Assignment hits theaters. You may know it by its previous title, (re)Assignment, which references the movie’s premise: Michelle Rodriguez plays a hit man named Frank who, after pissing off the wrong doctor, wakes up having been surgically transformed into a woman. He has been surgically re-assigned to a she (Rodriguez plays both pre- and post-op Frank), and now must kill everyone involved in the nonconsensual procedure. As one might imagine, the movie has been dubbed by some as offensive and “transphobic,” but the movie’s screenwriter, Denis Hamill, is defending his movie against those claims by saying Frank’s character isn’t trans at all. “First of all, the character is not transgender. To be transgender, you have to believe you are in the wrong body,” he told Variety. “He’s forced into a body into which he does not identify with. He’s gone through a sex change, but it’s not a gender change. It’s not at all making fun of or exploiting the people in the transgender community, who I have nothing but sympathy for. Politically, everybody who made this film is a progressive person. The last thing we wanted to do was insult anybody. It’s pure entertainment.”
The Assignment is generally just a massive knot of problems. It turns gender-confirmation surgery into a punishment, but also doesn’t include any mention of transgender people. (According to Hamill, no one is emotionally trans in his script.) It manages to accomplish trans erasure and insult trans people while issuing no direct comment about the transgender community. It also is kind of anti-men (Sigourney Weaver’s character puts Frank under the knife to relieve him of the burden of his toxic masculinity), while also being disparaging to women (if you were a big strong man wouldn’t turning into a woman just be the worst?!). And it’s also oddly low-intensity for a revenge movie. So you can pick your poison, or just pick all the poisons. According to Variety, Hamill wrote the script for The Assignment 40 years ago, which would make a lot of sense, and that the only goal was to make “lurid” pulp. “I’m certainly not here to make the journey of transgender people more difficult. As a matter of fact, I even find the suggestion insulting,” Hamill said. Maybe someone is writing a script right now that will be boorish and vulgar to viewers in 2057. But for now, we have The Assignment.