UK Release Date: 27th August 2015
Runtime: 96 minutes
Director: Aleksander Bach
Writer: Skip Woods, Michael Finch
Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Angelababy
Synopsis: A genetically engineered assassin joins up with a young woman to explore the secrets of her father and his scientific work.
It’s a cliché of film criticism by now to point out that there has never been a truly great movie based on a video game. The 2007 thriller Hitman, based on the game franchise of the same name, was certainly not one of those films and was battered by critics, despite reasonable franchise success. Eight years later, the genetically engineered stealth killer returns to the big screen with Hitman: Agent 47 and it doesn’t really seem like much has changed.
47 (Rupert Friend) is trying to protect the Agent program that created him from a shadowy group known as Syndicate. Deploying their own modified assassin, John Smith (Zachary Quinto), Syndicate attempt to track down Peter Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds) – the man who developed the program. Syndicate decides that the key to finding Litvenko is his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware), but 47 vows to get to her first.
Hitman: Agent 47 is the very definition of a bland action movie. The plot is paper-thin and much of the running time is taken up with people being shot in the head and exploding in bursts of CGI gore. If you’re of the school of thought that a video game movie should have video game visuals, then director Aleksander Bach’s film is probably right up your street.
| "If I give you what you want, there will be no peace."
Brit actor Rupert Friend, so understatedly brilliant in last year’s prison drama Starred Up, is totally at sea here as the iconic Agent 47. He plays the role without any sort of charisma or intrigue and indeed looks bored of himself for almost the entire film. Presumably he was simply counting the pay check with each headshot. Hannah Ware, as female lead Katia, fares a little better but is often sidelined in the action sequences, which are a festival of masculinity – that probably suits certain sections of the video game crowd just fine.
Chief among the problems with Hitman: Agent 47 is the script, co-written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch. With the former responsible for such dreck as X-Men Origins: Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard and the latter the writer of critically reviled Pierce Brosnan actioner The November Man, it’s not exactly a dream team. The dialogue is exceptionally dumb, with such gems as Katia’s full name actually an excruciatingly punny reference to a crucial plot point. It’s a script that’s at least two drafts away from being even slightly watchable, let alone of a high quality.
The film trudges dully from one action sequence to another, without any sense of logic, emotion or intrigue. Bach helms these scenes with a simple ethos – show as much violence as possible. Forgetting the crucial notion that the Hitman games were almost entirely focused on stealth killing, Bach cranks up the volume and lets the bullets fly liberally and indiscriminately. Nameless henchmen are dispatched throughout and there isn’t a single moment in which the violence seems to matter to any of the characters.
| "We determine who we are by what we do."
By the time Hitman: Agent 47 starts pulling rugs and tying story threads together, it’s really tough to care. The final five minutes is a barrage of revelations that bare little service to the plot of this film, but set up threads for a potential franchise. If there’s any justice (although the film has made a profit), that’ll be that for the character.
Now, for those hoping for video game movies to work, attention must turn to the double whammy of Duncan Jones’ Warcraft and Justin Kurzel’s Assasin’s Creed. If anyone can pull it off, it’s those guys.
Pop or Poop?
Video game adaptations are often poor, but they’re rarely as boring as Hitman: Agent 47. From the route one direction to the drab central performance, there’s very little to recommend in this action guff.
Every CGI splatter is like another headshot to the audience’s enthusiasm. Game over.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.