Agent 47 is back on the silver screen in this reboot of the 2007 Hitman film that starred Timothy Olyphant, only now with Rupert Friend playing the icy Agent 47 this time around. Not that it matters; the character is so interchangeable that anyone with a bald cap or shaved pate can easily assume the role (a fact that’s referenced in the film). Friend plays him with wooden acting, practically sleepwalking through the brainless and boring action sequences. Skip Woods returns as writer, a bad sign in itself, given his undeniable knack for ruining franchises; the fifth Die Hard, the Wolverine Origins film, and, as evidenced with Hitman: Agent 47, nothing has changed.
I can’t possibly imagine anyone wanted a reboot of this series, minus Square-Enix, the company that produces the video games that they’re based on. Not to belabor a point, but perhaps they’d have been betting hitting the ‘Pause’ button instead of Continue…
Katia (Hannah Ware) is on the run and exasperated – suffering from mystery ailment and doesn’t understand what is wrong with her; hardly surprising given she’s miserable and overly medicated on prescription pills. She’s also searching for her father (Ciaran Hinds), who may hold some answers. This is where John Smith (Zachary Quinto) comes into the picture, informing her that she’s a target. But can she trust this strange American she just met? She’ll have to take her chances, as it’s not long before Agent 47 (Friend) makes his appearance and has Katie in his sights.
Shockingly, it turns out that Smith isn’t who – or what – he says he is, and it’s not long before we have Katia teaming up with Agent 47 to track down her father. Just who is Katia and what does her past hold? And why is Smith after her? Turns out Smith works for a crime syndicate and, as Agent 47 reveals, she’s actually a better genetically modified specimen than 47 himself. One of her abilities, conveniently, is a sort of premonition and spatial clairvoyance that Agent 47 helps Katia master.
It should be fairly obvious that Hitman: Agent 47 isn’t very good. Not just because it’s the latest stinker in a long line of videogame adaptation stinkers, but it’s not good for more obvious – and unforgivable reasons. It’s an action film where much of the action is lifeless, dull, and boring – none of which can be blamed on the source material, which is often quite exciting and engaging. Here the Hitman games have been reduced to a confusing, overly complicated plot, rendering the lackluster action scenes to second fiddle status where the most interesting things are random explosions. Yay.
But it’s not just the action that stilted; even a relatively boring action film can be salvaged with a good performance and charisma (see every Jason Statham film). Rupert Friend, unfortunately, is so robotic that you’ll pine for his videogame inspiration. He appears stuck between acting and non-acting, giving off a strange, yet transcendentally detached performance, likely gazing miles away to better prospects. Furthermore, there seems to be a new trend in action/thriller/spy films of women on the hunt for their respective fathers who happen to be on the run. The recent Man from U.N.C.L.E had this plot point as well with Alicia Vikander’s character.
Moreover, it appears that videogame adaptations, despite two decades of trial and error (mostly error), continue to justify fans’ revulsion towards them. Why the powers that be can’t simply get one of these things correct is baffling; the audience is built-in, the stories and concepts already on the table, and most games these days are pretty much films anyway. It’s not like there need be a huge transition from the hugely expensive cinematic experiences most games include to the static world of celluloid, yet here we are, yet again, with another stinker like Hitman. Or, more correctly, a second Hitman, one that learned nothing from the mistakes of the former. It seems that Hollywood continues to struggle hitting that elusive middle-ground that satisfies both action and story, both gamer and film goer. Instead, they’ve once again alienated both.
Hitman: Agent 47 is a total and complete dud, a reminder that August has typically been the yearly dumping ground for Hollywood’s lesser efforts. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be so (just look at last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy). But as the summer winds down so does the energy of the summer film season, leaving only the upcoming glut of Oscar bait. One thing’s for certain: Agent 47 won’t be anywhere near them.