'Hitman: Agent 47
Plenty of bad movies have gotten released this summer, but none quite as irritating and thuddingly dull as ‘Hitman: Agent 47’. This is the second attempt to launch a moderately popular videogame series into a film franchise and this one is likely even worse than the first.
The film is a collection of gobbledygook storytelling combined with slickly shot action sequences that prove just how disinteresting that stylized cinematic violence can feel when derived out of characters and a plot that offer nothing in the way of drama or meaning.
Rupert Friend shaves his head and holds his face in a perpetual scowl to replace Timothy Olyphant (who refused to return) as the titular hitman, Agent 47. He’s part of a super-secret program that genetically engineered assassins with no emotions or empathy (which at least gives Friend an excuse to not have to worry about acting). He’s currently out hunting his latest target, a young woman named Katia (Hannah Ware). She apparently lives in a special section of Berlin where everyone speaks English in either American or British accents, and has no memories of her childhood. (In a movie about genetically modified assassins? Hmmmm…)
Katia is pursued not just by Agent 47, but also another assassin played by Zachary Quinto (who sadly hasn’t been offered any better scripts than this since becoming the new Spock) and can’t quite seem to figure out which one to trust. That would be a good mystery for the filmmakers to tease audiences with for 45 minutes or so were it not for… you know… the title.
This is one of those movies in which the plot is so inconsequential yet convoluted that it’s easy to zone out even during the opening credit sequence prologue. All the backstory is spoken without being shown and does little other than set up the fact that most of the characters on screen have guns and know how to use them. The genetically altered assassin plot also creates a world with characters incapable of emoting, so they don’t. All the actors speak in monotone despite living in a world defined by action and shoot-outs.
That leads to a movie that basically has two tones: flatline meaningless drama and big dumb stylized action. There’s nothing in between and little reason to care about why Friend’s monotone killing machine may or may not be less evil than Quinto’s monotone killing machine, or how they factor into the confusingly dull backstory involving Ware’s monotone character who may or may not be a killing machine.
Directing duties fell into the hands of first-time feature helmer and long-time commercial maven Aleksander Bach, which shows if nothing else just how many filmmakers turned this stinker down before the studio forced it into existence. Predictably, Bach doesn’t seem to have much of a grasp on pacing, storytelling or how to work with actors. However, he does know how to frame a pretty shot of a gun firing. So his focus is primarily on that material, and he serves up a series of antiseptic shoot-outs and fights that feel like they should be exciting, yet rarely are.
If the purpose of Bach’s movie is to show how tedious and dull the business of emotionless contract killing can be, then he’s succeeded admirably. Unfortunately, his movie is supposed to be poppy and exciting, which it never is. Maybe all the excessive slow-motion plays a role in that. Even the tying of a ponytail gets a lovingly slowed-down sequence to pad the running time.
Movies like ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ can feel downright insulting to watch. The project clearly only exists because the studio considered it a marketable property. The writers didn’t put any effort into making a story worth telling. The actors are merely going through the motions required to get a paycheck, and the director is doing little more than assembling a show reel of clips to apply for his next action assignment. The sad thing is that millions upon millions of dollars were funnelled into this production no one cared about that could and should have been used to produce plenty of other movies made with a purpose. Don’t just skip ‘Agent 47’, boycott it. No one needs to suffer through something this cynically produced and dull.