‘Hitman: Agent 47’ is a misguided reboot

hitman_agent_47Hitman: Agent 47
Written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch
Directed by Aleksander Bach
U.S., 2015

Video game adaptations are not only uninteresting, but they can’t possibly be anything close to their source material given that the mechanics and visceral nature of video games aren’t easily recreated on film. Hitman is stealthy, meticulous and never-failing, but because none of those qualities translate to the bigscreen, 20th Century Fox released another loud, dumb action movie into theatres before summer ends.

Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is a genetically engineered killing machine endowed with the trial and error of 46 past clones. A cold, emotionless killer as a central figure requires a strong supporting cast and an engaging story, but because Hitman: Agent 47 has none of those things, massive retinkering is required. The script by Skip Woods (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard), unfortunately treads largely the same steps as his last attempts at a Hitman film: An assassin and his female companion who race around Europe in hopes of tracking down answers to their burning questions.

Rather than team 47 with a prostitute again, Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) is an agent herself. You see, Katia has received her own genetic modifications and to find out why she and 47 are how they are, they will have to find her father before a faceless corporation finds him and create an army of assassins for themselves. (Hey! Three instances of military applications used as a summer blockbuster plot device since June. I get a free tank.) But answers won’t come without bloodshed. A faceless corporation sends legions of killers to put Agents 47 and 90 down.

Robert Friend in Hitman: Agent 47

Franchises manufactured to cash in on the built-in audience of videogame fans only have to please the core fans to do well, but there is very little here to appeal to anyone else. Agent 47 dresses like James Bond, but beyond the barcode on the back of his head, he is very bland. That’s not Rupert Friend’s fault, just as it wasn’t Timothy Olyphant’s fault in 2007. An empty vessel is necessary for gamers to feel like they are in total control of their character, but that is not enough to bring in casual viewers to extend this misguided attempt of a franchise.

Maybe the dull character beats of Hitman: Agent 47 could be overcome with any exciting set-pieces or high-tension dramatics? Aleksander Bach marks his debut as a director with this picture, so while the scenes are handled capably, there isn’t much of note going on. 47 is never challenged in combat and there’s never any cause for concern in regards to his safety. A boring action movie is bad enough, but one that treats its audience as stupidly as this film does deserves scorn. What cop brings a loaded weapon into an interrogation room? Let alone keep it loaded and pointed straight at the subject of questioning.

Should fans decide that their love of the Hitman series will get them through the film, a post-credits sequence teasing a villain from the games awaits you. I recommend holding off until it’s in the Walmart cheap DVD bin.

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