Hitman: Agent 47
2015, R, 96 min. Directed by Aleksander Bach. Starring Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Angelababy.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Aug. 21, 2015
Unless you’re a gamer, you can be forgiven for thinking that Hitman: Agent 47 is nothing more than another fire-sale item in August’s cinematic wasteland. But the story of a genetically engineered assassin is based on a 15-year-old video-game series that, through five major releases, has become much revered for its innovative approach to stealth gameplay. As Agent 47, you are given various missions to eliminate a target. How you do it is entirely up to you. Do you disguise yourself as a butler, infiltrate the mansion party, and stalk your prey until you have them alone, using your garrote as the coup de grace? Or do you go in, guns blazing, killing all witnesses in a bloodbath that alerts every cop in the tri-state area? The fact that the developers gave you so many choices of how to carry out a mission made the Hitman games so much fun and endlessly re-playable.
But as a film franchise, the property continues to suffer, first with 2007’s lackluster Hitman, with Timothy Olyphant shaving his head for a forgettable film that still went on to gross almost $100 million. And now (not surprisingly), we have another reboot, Hitman: Agent 47, which attempts to revitalize the franchise, because if Spider-Man can do it every few years, why not a niche video-game character? This time, it’s Orlando Bloom doppelgänger Rupert Friend (so good on Homeland, so unremarkable here) who goes cue ball in the title role. The plot revolves around Katia (Ware), a loner searching for her scientist father Litvenko (Hinds), who successfully designed the genetically engineered assassin program in the Sixties before disappearing without a trace. Agent 47 swoops in to save her from John Smith (Quinto), an agent of the Syndicate, dying to get its hands on the supersoldier technology. Much mayhem and tedious plot points ensue. It doesn’t help that the talented Quinto is completely miscast here as the heavy with “subdermal body armor” (it means you can’t shoot him, so stop fucking shooting him!). Friend, as the cold, emotionless, overly competent assassin who dispatches an endless supply of henchmen with slow-motion head shots, advances nothing for this played-out trope, but he looks good doing it. Hitman: Agent 47 is a film that bears nothing but a passing resemblance to the game that spawned it, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone, as it’s all just a cash grab, anyway. No choice but to wash, rinse, repeat: cha-ching.