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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

Back in December, I said that the 2007 Hitman film, "was able to maintain its faithfulness [to the games] and follow the key lessons of Filmmaking 101. It's not a perfect picture, but it feels like a complete picture." As a reward for its effort, it deserves a better trailer. That project is on hold, but I have a good start on it. When it's finished, both reviews will have links to it at the bottom of the page.

The 2015 film, Hitman: Agent 47, directed by Aleksander Bach, doesn't deserve a fan trailer, it doesn't deserve the sequel it tries to tease, but it doesn't deserve pure hate either. It at least has a few things going for it.

First, and most importantly, the basic story is simpler and easier to follow from the start. Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is protecting the daughter, Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware), of the man, Dr. Litvenko (CiarĂ¡n Hinds), who creates agents.

Well, the basics are simpler. Writers Skip Woods and Michael Finch try to give the movie a heart and soul by giving these characters connections to each other that are a little ridiculous and arcs that are underdeveloped. Ware is forced to go from would-be victim to assassin on par with 47 in a short time-frame, but she's written like a bumbling sidekick a little too often. When she does come into her own, she's great, but seeing where the inspiration for her may have come from, there were better options. If the filmmakers wanted to pull from the games, specifically Hitman: Absolution, they should have made her more competent from the start, or, like that game, made her a kid who's either hidden away from the villains for most of the movie or allowed to make rookie mistakes.

Second, the actors are pretty good. Friend makes the role his own and is very different from Timothy Olyphant's Agent 47, who had some swagger and humor. This time around 47 is scarier, more intimidating, and truly uncompromised. Ware, again, is best when the movie allows her to be. Other than that, she's just solid. Zachary Quinto's agent hunter John Smith is mostly a good match to Friend.

The problem with Friend's Agent 47 is he's an ass for no reason other than because that's seemingly the only way to sell killing machine. He regularly puts people, including Ware, unnecessarily in danger, threatens children (at least not directly, but through their parents). He's just not a fun guy to watch most of the time. He's an overcorrection from eight years ago, to the point where scary is more like a killer in a horror movie more than a man just doing his job. It's clear in the shots that show him by himself, from a distance, standing absolutely still.

Rupert Friend and Zachary Quinto
Opinions on Friend's 47 will be divisive, just like when Olyphant played him |  | Copyright 2015 Fox

Third, the hand-to-hand combat is well-shot. It may cut too much, but it's tough to get lost in what's going on, and it's another area where Agent 47 could've just fallen apart. The fights can be pretty fun too, the best ones being between Friend and Quinto. On paper, they may sound boring, since two killing machines fighting dredges up memories of Terminators, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which I watched earlier today), but their skills vary enough to keep it entertaining.

Other action scenes are ridiculous and there's a noticeable lack of stealth in Agent 47. The most appalling examples involve intentionally blown cover in an international embassy, a blown-up helicopter, and stopping an opponent by throwing a random bystander into him. The point of making movies under this license is it's supposed to inspire something a little more thought out than that. Unfortunately, it didn't this time.

So, some good, some bad, and some ugly. Throw in some intrusive product placement, cinematography that's all over the place, and two out of a handful of jokes that work, and at least it has its moments.

2/5 If you're completely new to this franchise, please still give the games a shot.

Update: My fan-made trailer for the 2007 movie and for this one. I may have been overly harsh in my criticism of this movie, but overall I stand by this review.
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