Skip Woods is an American screenwriter. His work includes A Good Day To Die Hard, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hitman, Swordfish and Sabotage. Not one of these films received critical praise, and whilst I pardon Sabotage as I thoroughly enjoyed it, the rest here frankly suck, especially in the story and character department. Die Hard 5 was the worst in the franchise despite impressive action sequences, but the story was weak as limp spaghetti. Skip Woods cannot meld a decent story without resorting to a series of empty macguffins and an overuse of boring exposition.
Hitman: Agent 47 is no exception. The structure is as follows: Action, exposition, action, exposition, more exposition, a bit of action, more exposition, then action. I will not lie when I say I'm all for mindless action and spectacle, the Transformers films leave me in awe at the scale and destruction. A Good Day To Die Hard had terrific action sequences, all of them loud, messy and explosive, that was the soul bright spot of the fifth film. This reboot of the popular video game has some well crafted and executed action scenes but when it comes to storytelling and world building it fails big time. I couldn't let my action junkie side mask over the fact that there wasn't much substance here.
I hate exposition in the form of news reports or paper clippings shoved on walls. Hitman sins as soon as it opens with a compilation of news clippings and a heavy detailed background narration about the programme that created the super agents. Moving on swiftly it becomes apparently several people are looking for a woman named Katya whose father created the programme, pretty much everyone in this film is looking for someone, even if they don't have a motive characters are thrown in to create barriers and opposition for one another. Zachary Quinto's character is simply there to explain every plot point and detail in simplified terms.
The only character that is interesting and has some complexities is Katya played by Hannah Ware. Katya is fearful, unsure of herself and very reserved, so when she meets Agent 47 she has to become resourceful and think on her feet. By the finale Katya has developed nicely into a smart killer. Hannah Ware is the best aspect of the entire film, her performance is suitably calm, never resorting to screaming and whinging, it's a refreshing female character to play and Ware balances confusion, fear and intrigue very well. I'd like to see more of her.
Zachary Quinto is miscast, he doesn't play the bad guy all that well. It's a big step down from his marvellous role as Spock in the rebooted Star Trek franchise. He's a good actor, but his acting comes off as extremely campy and unconvincing. Rupert Friend looks the part, and squeezes some small laughs out with his carefully placed moments of deadpan line delivery, but he's not imposing and menacing enough to truly sell the Hitman role, but during the action sequences he excels.
The lighting in this film is stunning, most noticeably during Agent 47's first shootout after killing Litvenko. Epileptics be warned: The strobe effects and flashes of harsh whites, deep blues and cool purples flicker, projecting soft shadows of Agent 47 against blood splattered walls look great. The sound design is tight and spot on, even LFE effects like crisp dollar notes being exchanged and grappling hooks sinking through metal feel rich and real, bullet hits can be felt all over the body and the roar of vehicles come to life, technically this film is very sound. I love the use of slow motion as it emphasises the badass moves and detail seen in every kill-shot and sly tricks, and the cinematography is gorgeous, especially during the Singapore sequences where every environment is captured from beautiful angles.
Despite some poor editing choices involving rapidly ascending action bursts and moments where it's unclear to tell which characters are speaking, Hitman boasts some slick fight choreography, brutal deaths and one very spectacular car chase through a garage and eventually into an open street where the clash of colours red and blue look lush, and also boasts a great if overused product placement for Audi.
All in all, Hitman: Agent 47 is generic but has quality crafting in sound and style, Hannah Ware is very good and there are some admittedly entertaining bursts of action, amplified by cheesy uses of CGI. Go in with an open mind and the expectation of weak story and you may just enjoy this, but it's only a one time watch.