(France - 2017)
Directed by Walter Hill. Written by Walter Hill and Denis Hamill. Cast: Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Tony Shalhoub, Anthony LaPaglia, Caitlin Gerard, Ken Kirzinger, Darryl Quon, Caroline Chan, Brent Langdon, Adrian Hough, Terry Chen, Paul McGillion. (R, 94 mins)
At 77 years of age and in his sixth decade in the movie industry, the great Walter Hill is far beyond the point of needing to prove himself to anyone. He works very infrequently these days--2013's underrated BULLET TO THE HEAD was his first big-screen gig in over a decade, though he did direct the acclaimed 2006 AMC miniseries BROKEN TRAIL. But in his prime, Hill was one of the giants. His incredible mid '70s to early '80s run that included classics like 1975's HARD TIMES, 1978's THE DRIVER, 1979's THE WARRIORS, 1980's THE LONG RIDERS, 1981's SOUTHERN COMFORT, and 1982's 48 HRS remains one of the best streaks a director could ever have. Even later, slightly lesser films that don't quite scale the heights of Hill in his heyday--1984's STREETS OF FIRE, 1987's EXTREME PREJUDICE, 1988's RED HEAT, 1989's JOHNNY HANDSOME, 1992's TRESPASS--still have those distinctly cynical. macho, tough guy Hill elements. Hill never gets mentioned in the same breath as the likes of auteurs that flourished in the '70s, like Scorsese, Coppola, or De Palma, but in his own way, he's every bit as significant to that era of Hollywood moviemaking. And that's just one reason why it's hard to even write about THE ASSIGNMENT, Hill's latest and arguably worst film. He took his name off of 2000's big-budget sci-fi bomb SUPERNOVA, with credit going to the non-existent "Thomas Lee" (a disgruntled Hill walked off the movie when filming wrapped, while Jack Sholder handled reshoots and, of all people, Francis Ford Coppola was pressed into service to edit the mess into something releasable), and while SUPERNOVA was indeed terrible, THE ASSIGNMENT might be worse.