Monday, August 24, 2015

Hitman: Agent 47

I’ve stated many times on this blog that I’m a huge video game fan. So much so that I make a real effort to see every film based on a game in the theater… even the ones that look like absolute ass (Bloodrayne, I’m looking at you). The trailers for the newest film in the Hitman franchise looked promising. The action looked fun and crazy while I liked some of the casting decisions as well. So of course I made plans to see it opening weekend.

Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), a genetically engineered assassin, attempts to protect a young woman (Hannah Ware) with a mysterious past from a killer (Zachary Quinto) who works for a malevolent corporation that wants to use her missing father (Ciarán Hinds) to create an army of cloned agents.
I saw the original Hitman film on opening night back in 2007 and couldn’t stand it. I had only a passing interest in the game it was based on, but on it’s own merits I found it to be wholly terrible and barely watchable. I had high hopes that this film would be the one to get it right now that I am more familiar with the source material. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

The main issue I have with Hitman: Agent 47, which is more of a full on reboot than a direct sequel, is that it feels incredibly generic. Everything about it is as cliché as you can possibly get. I don’t expect every movie to break new ground, especially one based on a video game, but I at least wanted it to attempt to put a new spin on the formula. Nope. Everything plays out exactly how you’d expect it to. In fact, if you’ve seen The Terminator you’ve seen Hitman: Agent 47. Essentially it’s a remake of that film beat for beat and follows the template laid down by that classic almost verbatim in some cases. The action scenes, which looked cool in the trailers, are lackluster in the extreme and do absolutely nothing to get the blood pumping. The only moment I can remember being somewhat rad was a car chase in a parking garage. A villain on a motorcycle has a head on collision with a car and he flies through the air smashing his head through the fluorescent lights on the ceiling. Visually it looked painful so that was a plus. Everything else not so much.
The cast is terrible. Rupert Friend (Homeland) is bland as the lead character. Agent 47 is supposed to be emotionless, but that doesn’t mean he has to be boring. Schwarzenegger pulls it off as the Terminator time and time again so there is no excuse. Hannah Ware (Shame) started off likable, but as the film dragged on she grated on my nerves something fierce due to her character’s inane whininess. Zachary Quinto (Star Trek: Into Darkness) absolutely kills it as Spock on the regular, but here he looks embarrassed to be playing this goofy character who has one of the worst death scenes in the history of film. Even the usually reliable Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong) looks like he’d rather be playing golf than playing the main heavy for the millionth time.

First time director Aleksander Bach shows zero style and next to no knowledge of how to get his cast to emote let alone look like they give a shit about the movie they are being paid to act in. He also forgot to add a sense of fun that is sorely missing. The trite script by Skip Woods (A Good Day to Die Hard) and Michael Finch (Predators) could have been at least something watchable in another’s hands, but Bach wasn’t the one to make it so. He couldn’t even get the sound department to give the aural experience any impact. Action scenes are just as boring to the ears as they are to the eyes. The score is shit too. And for an R rated film this is the driest action film I’ve seen in a long while. All the violence is performed off screen through cutaways and smash edits. Lame as fuck. The games this film is attempting to emulate are way more ballsy than this limp piece of dreck. Even the pathetic attempt to set up a cliffhanger for a potential sequel falls flat on its face. I don’t foresee Bach’s career going anywhere soon or fast. I predict his Hollywood days are over before they really began.
The only pluses I can address are the fact that Ciarán Hinds (Miami Vice) really tries to class up the picture by giving the only performance I gave a shit about. He is classically trained so it’s to be expected. I also enjoyed the bits that mimicked the video games, such as the disguises 47 employs to travel unnoticed throughout the film. Some of his attacks, like the use of the piano wire, are taken from the game as well. And that’s it.

While Hitman: Agent 47 isn’t nearly as horrible as it’s predecessor I honestly can’t say that I’d ever watch it again. Filled with missed opportunities, a director clearly out of his element, a crap script and actors that were completely miscast/disinterested, this film is a massive dud in my eyes. There are decent movies based on video games out there. I fully enjoyed Mortal Kombat, Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Sadly I feel that the Hitman games just aren’t meant to be among that short list. It’s been tried twice. I sincerely hope there isn’t a third.

1.5 out of 5

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