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Michelle Rodriguez’s ‘transphobic’ hitman thriller gets first trailer

By Will Stroude

After premiering to poor reviews and widespread condemnation from LGBT groups at the Toronto Film Festival last September, controversial Michelle Rodriguez thriller The Assignment has finally received its first full-length trailer.

Co-starring Sigourney Weaver, the Walter Hill-directed film tells the story of a male hitman (Rodriguez) who is kidnapped and forced to undergo gender reassignment surgery by a crazed doctor (Weaver) before embarking on a brutal revenge mission.

The film’s sensationalist premise was slammed by LGBT groups when it was announced back in 2015, and it has since been renamed twice, having originally been billed as Tomboy: A Revenger’s Tale and before being rebranded as (Re)Assignment last year.

In a trailer that will do little to dispel the controversy, Rodriguez’s character Frank Kitchen is seen waking up from surgery as the voice of Weaver’s Dr. Rachel Kay says: “This operation will serve as a reminder of the terrible thing you did.”

GLAAD’s director of programs for transgender media, Nick Adams, told The Hollywood Reporter at the time of the film’s announcement that is was “disappointing to see filmmakers turning what is a life-saving medical procedure for transgender people into a sensationalistic plot device”.

He added: “We are at a crucial moment in the public’s understanding of transgender issues, and stories like these have the potential to undermine the progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

As well as the film’s negative portrayal of gender reassignment surgery, the decision to cast Rodriguez, a cis-gender woman, in a trans role has also been criticised.

Despite the controversy, both Weaver and Rodriguez and have defended the film, with the latter insisting she has no regrets about signing up to the project.

In a post on Instagram last September, the 38-year-old Fast and Furious actress wrote: “In retrospect I’m I glad took the plunge, the industry seems to be running low on edgy creativity & ‘real take a chance’ controversy, sometimes it makes me want to scream.”

Rodriguez, who identifies as bisexual, has also claimed that her role in The Assignment is beyond reproach because she herself is a member of the LGBT community.

“You can’t really argue with me because I’m you,” the star said last year, adding that she would “never do a movie with the intention of offending anybody in the LGBT community” because she is “part of it.”

Weaver, meanwhile, has insisted that nobody is being “demeaned or denigrated” by The Assignment.

“It’s not a Disney movie – it is noir,” the 66-year-old said last year.

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