FILM REVIEW: 'Hitman: Agent 47' Misses the Mark
No one expected 'Hitman: Agent 47' to be the first great 'game' adaptation, and it isn't, but it's disappointing to witness how modest the film's aspirations are. Rupert Friend stars as Agent 47, a genetically enhanced assassin whose overall task is largely unclear besides killing people and protecting Katia (played by Hannah Ware).
The plot is nothing special and severely incoherent. The film's beats function only to take us from Point A to Point B and rarely does the film make sense. Caught between trying to move the plot forward and giving the audience action, the writers were out of material before they begun, coming up with exposition masked as dialogue and nonsensical quests to find someone or something. When 'Hitman: Agent 47' has the remnant of a story, it merely follows the typical action tropes of the genre it is contained in.
The actors don't get much better treatment than the plot. Rupert Friend is a serviceable lead who gives us more insight into his character than we expect, but nothing worth jumping over. Hannah Ware plays Katia, a frightened woman who has been running all her life - it's a shame she didn't run away from this film. Then there are some actors we know are fantastic, like Zachary Quinto, who is all but reduced into an antagonist with lines like "for fuck's sake" that are more comedic than serious. Ciaran Hinds, too, is whittled away into a role whose very significance as a character is unclear. There's certainly a problem if your characters are yelling "fuck" in frustration and all the audience can do is giggle quietly in response.
I know what you're thinking. Of course a game adaptation is going to have a joke of a plot and mediocre performances from the cast, but the action will save it, right?
First time director Aleksander Bach steers action like a short boy running around trying to get a good view of the television. His fights are bland, unexciting and remove us from the experience. If you want to know what good action is, look at 'Mad Max: Fury Road' or martial arts films like Jet Li's 'Fearless.' If action is shaky, it's because you don't want us to see the whole event, it was either poorly shot or because it 'adds' excitement. Shaky camera, incoherent angles and cutting away from the action make for a disappointing final result.
Every gun scene involves the pedestrian and unexciting hand gun and it doesn't get much better than that. Physical hand-to-hand combat is bland, tired and poorly choreographed, though there is one fairly interesting scene involving an Audi vehicle and heaps of hooks being shot into it. I mean sure, there's action, but when everybody and their mother has action, we need more than gun shots and blood splatter to make for a good film.
If there is one saving grace in an ultimately boring affair, it is that 'Hitman: Agent 47' takes its time when unveiling the hero of the movie. We are fooled and misdirected, torn between three characters that it makes our mind work to put the puzzle together. Once that interesting puzzle is completed, the rest of the movie shrinks into action, exposition and subpar acting.
'Hitman: Agent 47' never strives to be more than what it has to be, a film that respects its game material and delivers on action, but setting the bar low doesn't make for a movie worth paying to watch.
Playback Rating: WATCH IT/ DON'T WATCH IT/ WATCH IT AGAIN