Do you love the Bourne Identity series? Do you wish that Jason Bourne, the brooding agent who was turned into the ultimate killing machine via government experiments, fought in slightly larger spaces? Better yet, do you wish that Jason Bourne had significantly less hair and resembled a taut Mr. Clean? If the answer to all of those questions was "yes," then, boy, do I have a movie for you.
Hitman: Agent 47, based on the popular Hitman video game series, stars Rupert Friend (Showtime’s Homeland) as Agent 47, an assassin who was engineered by a secret organization to be the perfect killing machine, devoid of any feelings of love, fear, or empathy. That secret program has since been shut down, but now there are efforts to find the original scientist (the great Cirian Hinds) who brought about these superhuman killing machines so that... he can create more of them. Agent 47 does not want more super agents in the world (because then he is less special, obviously), so he is thus tasked with protecting the scientist’s sexy daughter (Hannah Ware) a.k.a. the only person who holds the key to the scientist’s whereabouts, of course. Along the way enemies are forged, friends are made, and lots and lots of henchmen are shot in the head.
The film very much leans into its video game roots. There’s pulsating techno music, quick cuts of people picking up and firing guns, slow motion fight choreography, tons of slick-looking European characters, and an ever-changing backdrop of various cities like Berlin and Singapore that give the impression of different levels of a game. However, the film’s faithfulness to its video game origins is its biggest problem as a film because Hitman: Agent 47 is a lot of style with very little substance or personality. There are tons of shootouts and hand-to-hand combat scenes but the film and its writers give us very little reason to care about who lives and who dies in these sequences. Having a protagonist who is devoid of human emotions is interesting in theory but actually kind of bland in practice. Furthermore, the idea that an organization would attempt to create an advanced race of people has been depicted with much more depth and nuance in dozens of films before; and Hitman's handling of themes such as predestination and choice comes off as forced and contrived.
The film ends in a way that leaves the door open for future installments in the series (because everything has to be a tent pole these days) so just know that buying a ticket to see this film, as haphazardly as this decision might come to you, is a vote “yes” for Agent 48 and onwards.
*It should be noted that Zachary Quinto (or a wax figurine of Zachary Quinto) is in this movie as a character named John Smith. Also, at the time of this review, this particular reviewer had not seen Agent 1-46 (they weren’t on Netflix…).