An abundance of bullet-frenzied fight scenes, car chases and slick scenic shots of exotic locations saves this assassin-based action flick from termination… but only just.
When I was a teenager, the Hitman video game series was considered a modern classic. It was a simple idea but at the same time complex as it made you use your brain. It wasn’t “all guns blazing”, but about finesse. Most importantly, however, was the game’s protagonist, designated only as “Agent 47”. When you looked at this cold and featureless assassin, donning his crisp suit with the ultimately symbolic blood red tie, there was only one possible reaction – “what a bad**s!”. Now, think about that moment when you traded in your favourite game and the underwhelming sensation you had when receiving mere pennies for it in return… And there you have perhaps the greatest metaphor ever for a movie based on a video game. No problem. Feel free to use it.
In what is “47”’s second big screen adaptation, but is in no way linked to the 2007 box office success Hitman, Rupert Friend (Homeland) adopts the role of the genetically engineered super assassin, starring alongside Hannah Ware (Boss; Betrayal) and Captain Kirk’s BFF, a.k.a. Zachary Quinto (Star Trek; Star Trek Into Darkness). In an attempt to thwart the recreation of the “Agent Program” which made him, “47” is tasked with eliminating its former research scientist, currently in exile and untraceable, before its details fall into enemy hands. His one lead is Katia Van Dees (Ware), believed to be his daughter and potentially key to his location who, at the same time, is also trying to trace him. Battling against the superior manpower of the ICA and their assigned agent “John Smith” (Quinto), “47” and Katia must reach her father in time to ensure that the ICA’s plan to restart the “Agent Program” and create an army of killing machines does not become a reality.
Everything about this film is a little off. The skill and covert nature of the game which made it so enjoyable and a potentially interesting movie concept, has been replaced with loud gunfights, explosions and Matrix-esque moves. The plot and pace of this film is like watching a kid playing it on speedrun. At numerous points I had no idea what was going on or how far I was into watching it. The biggest problem, however, are the characters themselves – although Friend’s portrayal of the cold and merciless “47” is satisfactory. Beyond attempting to provide Katia with some background, as well as the story of “47”’s creation in the opening credits, there is very little to know about them. The head of the ICA is the standard corporate bad guy intent on taking over the Earth. Diana, “47”’s handler in the game series, also makes a brief appearance, but if you weren’t a fan of the game then all she would be is just a beautiful woman in a suit. But perhaps the most infuriating of all is “John Smith”, whose attempts at villainy are a cross between Wile. E. Coyote and a small boy climbing in to his father’s suit to play dress-up, whilst spouting villainous catchphrases and clichés as though he just overheard them on television. So no matter how much I want to invest in these characters, they’re all just bodies with as much depth as re-spawned bad guys at the next in-game save point.
If you’re a gamer reading this, you may want to hide your controllers before they become imbedded in the wall. If you want a slick and interesting story, you won’t find it here. It is not going to win an Oscar, nor change cinema forever, as Hitman: Agent 47 sadly continues the trend of video game adaptations which haven’t quite hit the mark in Hollywood. But if you just want to sit back and watch a film with lots of enjoyably ludicrous action, cool gadgetry and the chance to stare at Hannah Ware for 90+ minutes, then enjoy it’s silliness in all of its splendour! After all, isn’t that what video games are all about?
Rating – 40%
Director – Aleksander Bach
Cast – Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Angelababy
Genre – Action, Adventure, Thriller
Running Time – 96 Minutes
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