By Nico Beland
Movie Review: F+ (1 ½ stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX
Here we go again, another live action movie based on the popular Hitman video game series, originally developed by Eidos but is now owned by Square Enix’s IO Software. The first Hitman movie released in 2007 was widely panned by critics and fans of the game, no shock, but when I first watched it, I honestly kinda liked it, at least as an action movie, I’m sure as a video game movie it fails hard, but Hitman wasn’t really a video game series that I followed that much, I’ve played them once in a while, they’re good but they didn’t leave much of an impression on me, it certainly did with other people and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The first Hitman movie starred Timothy Olyphant as the genetically altered killing machine, Agent 47 and while the film is undeniably flawed and not technically a good movie, Olyphant was somewhat entertaining as Agent 47 and had some development as a character and the action for the most part was over the top fun. But it didn’t matter because while the film did well at the box office, the reviews were very negative and the sequel was canceled during production.
So in its place, we have a reboot, Hitman: Agent 47, directed by newcomer Aleksander Bach, written by Hitman (2007) writer, Skip Woods, and starring Rupert Friend (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Young Victoria, Homeland) as Agent 47. Unlike Fox’s other reboot that came out this summer, Fantastic Four, which I had no expectations for, I pretty much had low expectations on this movie from the start, a reboot of the Hitman movie, really, what can you do with this?
And they pretty much do exactly what every other video game movie does, little to no understanding of the original source material, cardboard cutout characters that are just called in to “Look” like the game without really trying, overwhelming action sequences, and moments where a character should look threatening but it mostly comes off as unintentionally hilarious. Even the first Hitman movie had some watchable elements, whether you’re a fan of the game or not, this however will probably make fans of the Hitman games have a whole new appreciation for the first movie.
The film centers on Agent 47, an elite assassin who was genetically altered from conception to become the perfect killing machine. This man feels no emotion, has a barcode on the back of his head, he named himself after the last two digits of the barcode, and his sole purpose in life is to kill, kill, kill, he’s practically like the Terminator, except not nearly as fun to watch as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but just as robotic in his acting.
47 is the culmination of decades of scientific research and 46 earlier Agent clones, very much like the Smith clones in the Matrix movies, with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina, and intelligence, it’s like Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes on steroids and heavy firepower.
His target is a top-secret organization that plans to unlock the secrets of Agent 47 to create an army of Agent clones that would possess powers that could surpass 47’s capabilities and an equally powerful Agent henchman (Zachary Quinto-Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness). Teaming up with a young woman, Katie van Dees (Hannah Ware-Cop Out, Shame, Oldboy) who also have the same powers as 47 and powers that may surpass his, and her father, Dr. Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds-Excalibur, Road to Perdition, Munich), the scientist who created the Agent program, 47 confronts revelations about his own origins and faces off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe yet.
Overall, Hitman: Agent 47 is a pretty weak attempt to breathe new life into a dead video game movie from 2007 and basically it ends up being like every other video game movie ever made. You name it, lazy character development, amateur acting, and heavy focus on overwhelming action sequences over telling a decent story, it’s a mess, plain and simple.
But with that said, some the action sequences can be over the top fun like an exciting car chase through a parking garage, a bloody shootout in a factory, and even some of the scenes where Katie learns how to use her skills can be pretty neat, when they’re not turning an action scene into a seizure inducing light show. Unfortunately all throughout the movie I’m just saying to myself “These action scenes are cool, but do I really care who comes out on top?” And the correct answer is No.
47, Katie, and her father are not developed well, they’re not characters but rather tools to just get the movie going. You don’t feel for these characters, the backstories are through extremely choppy editing, and Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware are very bland, at least Timothy Olyphant was sort of interesting back in the first Hitman movie, and Zachary Quinto is basically just re-enacting his Vulcan emotions from when he played Spock in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies, except they worked better in those movies than they do here.
Besides the acting and poor development, the film’s characters are horrible at looking threatening. Every time Agent 47 is walking in slow motion and that techno music plays, I burst into laughter because of how silly and over the top it looks, but it certainly isn’t threatening, it’s funny, not to mention Zachary Quinto has plenty of moments that are unintentionally funny, but unfortunately it doesn’t have enough unintentionally funny moments to be considered “So bad it’s entertaining” like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation or the Super Mario Bros. movie, hell even Pixels and last year’s Need for Speed movie were better than this.
If you don’t like movies based on video games, there’s pretty much nothing in here for you. And all this action just makes you wish you were back home playing your Xbox.