One cannot be blamed for writing off Walter Hill's The Assignment (or turning it off, for that matter). The iconic director of grimy 80s action flicks like 48 Hrs and Streets of Fire shaped this thing for decades, and has finally unleashed his ugly, ill-conceived Sin City knock-off about a psychotic plastic surgeon who commits non-consensual gender-reassignment surgery on the hitman who killed her brother. Aside from the top-notch cast (no doubt Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, and Tony Shaloub bought matching pools with their paychecks) and authentic, old-school aesthetics, the film implodes on its own footprint at every turn. The action is lame; the motivations are (poorly) explained far too late through marathon expository dialogue; and the male-to-female conceit fails so thoroughly that it begs comparisons to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. At least that film was fun. The Assignment is cinema Sudoku, a head-hurting, WTF mystery to be solved—not celebrated.