HITMAN: AGENT 47 (Germany | USA/15A/96mins)
Directed by Aleksander Bach. Starring Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds, Angelababy
THE PLOT: Katia Van Dees (Hannah Ware) finds herself searching for a mysterious man in Berling, when the vicious and ruthless assassin, Agent 47, targets her. Saved from hthe agent’s first attack by John Smith (Zachary Quinto), Katia soon learns that the man she seeks is her father – the man responsible for creating the man pursuing her – and sets out to find her family, and the truth about where she comes from.
THE VERDICT: ‘The history of man is defined by war, and war by the men who fight it’, or so we are told in voiceover at the start of HITMAN: AGENT 47. This gives the impression that the agents are the next phase of human evolution, and war between the ‘normals’ and the agents is looming. Such war never really comes in HITMAN: AGENT 47.
Based on a the video game series ‘Hitman’, and written for the screen by Skip Woods and Michael Finch, HITMAN: AGENT 47 is a film about characters whose capacities for love and fear have been removed, making them super soldiers and dangerous assassins. This is all well and good, but it also seems that all of the emtion has been removed from the film as a whole, leaving us with some cool-looking set pieces, but no characters to get to know, and no-one to root for.
The cast is fairly great; Agent 47 is played by HOMELAND’s Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto plays John Smith and Ciarán Hinds turns up as Katia’s father Litvenko. Katia herself is played by Hannah Ware and Angelababy plays the mysterious Diana. None of the cast are really given a chance to show what they are capable of, instead the film seems to rely on action filling in for emotion and heart.
Woods and Finch’s screenplay keeps HITMAN: AGENT 47 heading into clichéd action movie territory for the first act, before steering it away into something else in the second. The problem with this is that while the twist is interesting, characters loyalties seem to shift too easily, clichés still abound and the film seems to be more concerned with looking good – some of the shots are actually rather interesting – than telling an engaging story. As mentioned, most of the characters are cold and emotionless, leaving the audience with no-one to root for, and when the emotion is dead, the set pieces fall flat. As well as this, some profanity was shoved into the final act, but instead of conveying any sort of emotion, it just comes off as awkward.
First time director Aleksander Bach makes the film look stylish, and the use of colour is admittedly great, but there is little here so differentiate HITMAN: AGENT 47 from a video game, in terms of heart or getting the audience to engage with the characters – one single solitary tear does not an emotional core make. Although the set pieces are well shot, it is not long before mysteries are solved too easily, unnecessary quips become tiresome, crosses and double crosses confuse and clichés abound. Some humour may have rescued the film, but since it so steadfastly follows the action movie rules and doesn’t seem to care a jot for story, this seems unlikely.
In all, HITMAN: AGENT 47 is as cold and emotionless as its title character. All of the pieces are there for the audience to root for Katia, but they never quite get assembled properly and while the action pieces are high octane, they fall flat. The whole thing feels like rooting for an iPhone 5 in a fight against an iPhone 6; it doesn’t really matter who wins because the outcome is going to be shiny and sleek either way. Also, having Ciarán Hinds play a 72 year old man just doesn’t feel right.
RATING: 1.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Hitman: Agent 47
Review by Brogen Hayes
1.5Cold and emotionless
  • filmbuff2011

    Hollywood’s first stab at classic video game Hitman was in 2007, with Timothy Olyphant in the lead role as assassin Agent 47. It made back its budget at the box office, but couldn’t really be considered a hit. It was an OK but unremarkable film, even referencing the game in one scene. So, what possessed Hollywood to reboot it and give it another go? Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is assigned the task of taking out Katia (Hannah Ware). Not for a dinner date, but a date with death. Also on 47’s hitlist is Syndicate International agent John Smith (Zachary Quinto), who is impervious to bullets (don’t ask). Smith tries to persuade Katia to come with him to Singapore, as she is trying to find a man who holds the key to the Agent programme. This man may be her father. As 47 closes in on their trail, it becomes clear that Smith has ulterior motives and 47 may not actually be trying to kill her, but protect her. Perhaps even awaken a particular set of skills within her… The main problem with Hitman: Agent 47 is the lead character himself. It’s no fault of Friend, a solid if often under-used actor. The problem resides in the fact that in the film environment, there’s little emotional engagement with the character by the audience. He’s just a cold-blooded assassin, who speaks softly and kills without emotion. That’s fine in the video game, where it’s fun to control 47 and plot out the various ways of taking out a mark, whether by poisoning, a garrotte, those famous Silverballers or other means. Most of the time you’re looking at the barcode on the back of his head anyway. But a film needs a lot more audience investment in the character, to want to care for him and the people around him. There’s little room to manoeuvre with the character in the film environment. First-time Polish director Aleksander Bach does what he can to give 47 some backstory, but it doesn’t go far enough. Coming from a background in music videos and short films, Bach does a competent job in the technical department, with the film looking and sounding good, making use of some unusual locations across Europe and Asia. Ciaran Hinds and Thomas Kretschmann are under-used, but not as much as Jurgen Prochnow in a blink-and-you’ll miss him appearance. The less said about Quinto’s ridiculous agent, the better. Towards the end, a fight between Smith and 47 looks like a fight between the T-101 and the T-1000. Hitman: Agent 47 doesn’t really do the character justice. Hollywood 2, Audience 0. Time to find a new action franchise. You’d be better off re-playing the video game for 96 minutes instead. **