In the footsteps of ‘Tomb Raider’, ‘Resident Evil’ and the first ‘Hitman’ film, comes ‘Hitman: Agent 47’, another movie based on a video game. These films are often rubbish, if sometimes actually entertaining. But does ‘Agent 47’ manage to defy expectations?
Short answer? No. Nuh-uh.
For the first half of this film I seriously considered walking out. I had no desire to watch the rest, to see what happened or how it ended. The characters were one-dimensional, the writing predictable and rudimentary, and the special effects often looked like they had come straight from the video game the film is based on.
Rupert Friend (‘Homeland’) plays the eponymous Agent 47, a genetically-enhanced hitman (duh) stalking his prey. Who that prey might be is not clear until the very end, but for a while it seems he’s after Katya (Hannah Ware, ‘Shame’), the daughter of the geneticist Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds) who created the Agent program. Litvenko bailed on the program when Katya was a child, and is now sought after by evil organisation Syndicate Internationale to reboot his experiments and create an army of agents. Their chief henchman John Smith (Zachary Quinto) has a complex about whether he’s as effective as Agent 47. Katya turns out to be more than a means to trap Litvenko (of course), and the bad guys aren't who we’re lead to believe. All this is obvious from the beginning; the time spent setting these twists up could have been better spent, as the reveals are so predictable as to be wasteful.
The special effects during the vehicle chase scenes are decent, but are certainly not up to film quality once bodies are involved. Production didn't even try to hide the stunt doubles in the fight scenes either. However, some of the camera work in the action scenes is pretty good and there is creativity evident in these sequences.
The film does pick up a bit in the second half, despite the storyline remaining staid, boring and predictable. Had the story focussed more on certain aspects, like Katya’s backstory or training, it may have been a little better. But this is a first-person shooter-based movie, and even though there is some effort made and a little potential, it’s not aimed at intellectuals. It’s violent, though that violence is precise. Marco Beltrami's score isn't bad, and is even noticeably good in parts.
For the first half of this film I seriously considered walking out.
The performers do their best. I can’t really fault them much, because what they had to work with was fairly dismal. They make the most of a wooden, empty script and milk the few decent lines for all they're worth. Unfortunately, this only serves to confuse the film even more. Had it been nothing but mindless action and a bit of fun, I could have forgiven it, but it tries too hard to take itself seriously, which meant I just couldn't.
If you are a fan of these kinds of films - and particularly if you like the game - you may enjoy this film if you take it for what it is. However, it’s nothing beyond that, and not even as good as the ‘Resident Evil’ or ‘Tomb Raider’ franchises... and they didn't exactly win Oscars.