Movie Review : Hitman - Agent 47 (2015)
The quickest way to start a fist fight with a gamer is to claim that video games aren't art. Doesn't matter if you have a nuanced and pertinent underlying point, prepare to throw down. Now, I've spent countless hours of my life senselessly murdering strangers with corporate jobs in the Hitman video games and while it felt extremely satisfying, I've never seen any narrative potential to it. The ways of Hollywood are mysterious thought and Hitman: Agent 47 emerged last year, starring perennial favorite of mine Rupert Friend as the lead, so you know me. I HAD to give it a shot. My curiosity and irrational confidence in people I love will be my undoing someday.
Mark my words.
So, Hitman: Agent 47 more or less follows the overarching plot of the video games. The Agents program has engineered genetically superior human beings who don't know love, fear, regrets pain, etc. The Agents are used as super warriors to make wars cleaner, neater and more cost-efficient. The program faded out after creator Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds) disappeared, but a worldwide effort is launched to find him and launch the second part of the program. The only link to Litvenko is his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware), who is hounded across the globe by a mysterious corporation and the elusive Agent 47 (my boy Rupert Friend) who's motives are unclear.
I am probably Rupert Friend's greatest fan. I believe his Shakespearean interpretation of Peter Quinn in Homeland is transcending the standards of contemporary television, so I wanted him to do well. He delivered a solid performance overall, playing the gaps between humanity and genetic programming in key scenes, but this movie was an uphill battle. He's not even the real lead of Hitman: Agent 47, Hannah Ware is. Not that having a female lead is a bad thing, but it's not what I've been sold here. Ware's character has no depth whatsoever. She's merely a plot device that allows a convenient and quickly put together story to move along without having to explore the unlikely and original 47. Friend's job in that movie is merely so slaughter corporate cronies.
I wanted to like Hitman: Agent 47, but I can't talk myself into such a goddamn lazy movie. We're supposed to care about Katia because she's a woman, she looks vulnerable and that her dad is valuable to an evil corporation. There is nothing else to her character. Hitman: Agent 47 invented a new, lazier sexist stereotype with Katia. Everything about the screenplay is rushed through to leave room for the long and winded fight scenes. There is a conspiracy, but it's unclear how it's affecting anyone. The corporation is evil, but it's unclear exactly what their plans are. 47 has went rogue, but it's unclear from who and why. Conspiracy, corporation, rogue badasses, FIGHT SCENES! Hitman: Agent 47 doesn't have an original bone in its body ad relies on the fact you've probably seen a hundred movies like it before.
Let's talk about them fight scenes for a second. Or should I call them mass murder scenes? Because they are the backbone of the video game franchise and they CLEARLY were what Hitman: Agent 47 was banking on to be successful. If you're not actually participating in the slaughter using a video game controller and feeling a vague sense of challenge of having anonymous baddies trying to kill you, it doesn't really work as well. The killing scenes come across as a very blatant attempt at making violence sexy, like some kind of ballet of death that doesn't have any consequence on super powered human being who can slip off the grid whenever they want. I don't think there's even one cop in Hitman: Agent 47.
Hitman: Agent 47 is like your simple minded male co-worker who walks into the office one day wearing leather pants. It desperately wants to be sexy, but it comes across as a clumsy aberration. I have a thing against movies that think I am stupid and want my money and Hitman: Agent: 47 is exactly that. No harm. No foul, Rupert Friend. You did the best you could in those circumstances and probably cashed a well-deserved Hollywood-sized paycheck, but the supid, paper-thin script of Hitman: Agent 47 was too much to overcome. Not even your transcendent, Eastwoodesque acting talent could save this movie from itself. It's kind of a garbage film, ladies and gentlement. Even if you're a fan of the video games, it's still a garbage film.