Hitman: Agent 47

I was thinking…

…how, with the increasingly realistic graphics and game play of modern video games, more and more aspiring filmmakers and production designers are aiming away from the filmic professions and are instead gravitating toward video game production.

It is delightfully ironic then that so many films in recent years have been mining video games for source material. Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, the recent production of Assassin’s Creed and, of course, Hitman.

Hitman: Agent 47, as much a possible reboot as sequel to the 2007 Timothy Olyphant vehicle, stars instead relative unknown Rupert Friend (Pride and Prejudice) and follows the titular hero of the video game series, a true anti-hero if ever there were one.

The 47th genetically engineered assassin in a line of such killing machines, 47 is tasked with discovering the whereabouts of the father of the Agent program, Litvenko (Ciaren HindsJohn Carter, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) in order to prevent him or anyone else from resurrecting it. Also searching for this man is an obsessed young woman named Katia van Dies (Hannah WareOldboy, Copout). Unfortunately for her, 47 is also on contract to kill her.

Launching their own attempt at securing Katia and Litvenko are the Syndicate International, more specifically their agent calling himself John Smith (Zachary QuintoStar Trek Into Darkness). Smith convinces Katia he is there to protect her from 47, but he also needs her to lead him to Litvenko. 47 needs to stop the Syndicate or risk having his own fellow agents come gunning for him.

Although I would not call Agent 47 an improvement on the original film, it does have its strengths. Slickly shot, the frames are crisp and vibrant. In an ironically well-lit world, considering the story material, the eye is met with stark contrasts, monochromatic landscapes and splashes of color. 47’s signature red necktie stands out boldly against the white and blacks of his two-dimensional world of kill or be killed. The brightness can get a little wearing on the eye after a while, especially in a dark theater. There were entire minutes when the screen was so blindingly lit, one could see the speakers behind the screen itself.

The acting, fortunately, was of a better than decent quality, Friend portraying the shaven-headed killer with the proper tight-lipped chilling demeanor while somehow pulling off a subtle loneliness. Ware cooks up tears at a moment’s notice and, once one realizes she is crying–a lot–because her emotions have been heightened, it is easier to look past the nearly constant well of tears in her eyes.

As for the music, composed by Marco Beltrami (The Hurt Locker, Fantastic Four, although we won’t hold that against him), is as equally edgy and modern as the settings, with subtle hints of Graeme Revell‘s 2005 Aeon Flux score.

A movie called Hitman must also be absolutely drenched in blood, and this one certainly does not disappoint in sanguinary matters. The CG gore can be a little over-the-top at times, and it is certainly not for the timid or hemophobic. Spraying and squirting and dispersing in fine red mists as it does.

Still with me? No one passed out, did they?

The characters are interesting enough. 47 is, of course, an intriguing subject, but Katia presents a less jaded view on the world. She is the yin to 47’s yang. Emotionally heightened as opposed to cold and aloof. Nurturing instead of destructive. We are meant to sympathize more with her than anyone else. Indeed, it is through her character we see a metaphorical tutorial those familiar with video games will understand. Whether it is learning how to untie herself from a chair before being sucked into a jet engine or how to avoid a slew of security cameras, Katia lives aspects of the video game itself while actually keeping them germane to the plot. Kudos to director Aleksander Bach and writers Skip Woods and Michael Finch for pulling that off. If you’re not looking for it, you’d miss it entirely.

And now I told you what to look for, so you won’t miss it at all. See how that worked out?

As for the dialogue… Well, let’s just say a lot of it is very predictable. And there are certainly a few moments when I wondered if someone like Zachary Quinto had paused at all during the filming and thought, Man, I feel like an idiot saying some of this stuff. But then again, he spends half of his career talking like Spock, so who is he to judge?

Speaking of speaking, there are the lengthy scenes of dialogue to wade through before one can get to the good ol’ shoot ’em up scenes. These exposition sequences litter the film from beginning to end and throw off the pacing, giving the relative impression of a solid two hour film when it really falls nearly 30 minutes shy of that mark.

Agent 47 also seems an odd title choice, as this chapter in his story feels like it is far more about Katia than 47 himself. Here’s hoping future installments, should there be any, return to the main character’s personal exploits and shy away from secondary, tertiary or add-on characters. Perhaps they’ll make a Hitman: Katia movie that will then center on 47. Either way, there is plenty of room left open for sequels.

Ammo Dump rating:  6 out of 10 bullets

I’ll talk more about this film and others during my (every once in a while) radio show. Listen in on WJBC-AM1230 in Central Illinois. For the rest of the world, listen on WJBC.com or the “iHeartRadio” app on your smart phone. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @ALphaEXray to find out when I’ll be on the air.

Hitman: Agent 47
Rated R
Run time: 96 minutes

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