Director: Aleksander Bach
Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware
If there’s one thing the film industry is great at, it’s taking popular video games and turning them into shocking movies. They’ve had enough practice after all. Just look at ‘Need For Speed’, ‘Lara Croft’ and ‘Super Mario Bros’. Perhaps the only franchise ever to get it somewhat right is ‘Resident Evil’, but that’s a discussion for another day and another review.
Which brings us to ‘Hitman: Agent 47’, a reboot of the much maligned 2007 attempt at bringing ‘Hitman’ to the silver screen. Utilising the same lead character, ‘Agent 47’ flips the script from the original. This time, instead of our assassin being hunted down by the world’s largest task force organisations, he is the one doing the hunting, which introduces a pleasant menace to the narrative. Yet, before we go any further, I know what you’re all wondering: was it better than the original? In short, yes. Just.
For those not familiar with the ‘Hitman’ backstory, a not so distant future sees the production of experimental, genetically-engineered, killing machines, endowed with unprecedented speed, strength, stamina, and intelligence. That is, until governments around the world shut down the manufacture of such beings, burying the program to the depths of the earth. Nonetheless, a powerful, corporate syndicate is determined to find the vanished scientist who first modified the sentient killers, in order to unlock the secrets of the past and create an army of new and improved serial assassins. Which is where we pick up with this live action version: it is up to Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) – and his newfound female agent friend – to quash the syndicate’s efforts.
Zachary Quinto portrays Agent 47’s nemesis, John Smith, and delivers a performance of fantastic villainy. That elegant look he gives, staring deep into the camera, imbuing psychopathic glee, brings back memories of his terrifically terrifying run as Sylar on the hit TV show ‘Heroes’. Rupert Friend’s performance as Agent 47, on the other hand, is nothing special, but everything he needs to be – cold, methodical, efficient. However, I have to admit that the best quality of this quiet, brooding character may well be something as basic and materialistic as the shiny guns he fires with magnificent proficiency. Lastly, Hannah Ware, as the female protagonist Katia von Dees, left a fair bit to be desired. With a demographic mainly consisting of men however, we all know she’s just there to look really hot and make any man’s jaw drop upon entering the theatre.
Aleksander Bach’s directorial debut is in fact the flashy, fast-paced, shoot-em-up we all expected. But to completely dumptruck it into the cinematic wasteland doesn’t quite do it justice. The criticism most will have on ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ is that the writing was particularly poor. Every line sounded like it had been patched together by an unimaginative freshman in a creative writing class.
With even a moderately good script, ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ would be the subject of a very different discourse. The action scenes were everything you could want and the cinematography was of a certain quality. You just can’t have accomplished actors spitting weakly-penned, generic platitudes and expect to hit a home run. A film which could have been so much better, has only marginally exceeded the lowly expectations placed upon it.