HITMAN: AGENT 47 Review
Director: Aleksander Bach
HITMAN: AGENT 47 is an accomplishment of biblical proportions. If anything, it’ll make you find newfound appreciation in 2011’s HANNA. It is the very definition of D-list. Willfully defunct and shamelessly riddled with copy-cat vignettes, this video game adaptation completely obliterates any potential it had for being a halfway decent viewing experience through bad writing, casting, and visual execution. Chock-full of tacky dialogue, repetitive visual cues, and arguably the least charming protagonist to have come out of blockbuster entertainment since Howard the Duck, this 2015 vehicle somehow spoils a perfectly competent, albeit ridiculous, base premise for generic set-piece after generic set-piece.
Setting up the narrative, HITMAN: AGENT 47 opens with a credits sequence that’s scored by a convenient voice-over in order to help familiarize the uninitiated with the titular game’s universe. Exposition heavy writing aside, the visuals during this opening already feel awkwardly dated, as if your favorite Luc Besson impersonator just attempted to re-shoot the famous early 2000’s “piracy is a crime” commercial that was on every DVD at the time.
And don’t you forget it
Once the film begins, everything becomes painfully obvious. What HITMAN: AGENT 47 falls flat on are a few base features. The film takes itself far too seriously for a narrative that can best be summarized as “Frankenstein’s assassins”, and furthermore suffers from narrative beats that shamelessly exploit the concepts behind the TERMINATOR series and V FOR VENDETTA, as well as aesthetic decisions that don’t even attempt to disguise the fact that they’re ripping off THE MATRIX.
What hurts even more, is that THE MATRIX was made sixteen years before HITMAN: AGENT 47, and yet it appears as if the opposite were true. Everything looks synthetic, and consequently, nothing carries any physical weight. Every item and individual feels awkwardly hollow, as if a fifty year old model-city aficionado decided to shoot up his quaint, plastic town. Whether lead actor Rupert Friend was actually on screen has yet to be determined. According to Google, the actor does not currently have a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Sculpture, but that’s probably a lie, since the statue was obviously on display for this shoot whilst Friend was sipping mai tais in Bali. His performance is so flat that he makes Keanu Reeve’s Neo look like Laurence Olivier.
Straight Outta Shakespeare
Oddly enough, Zachary Quinto makes for an incredibly weak action-star despite his strong performance as Spock in J.J Abrams STAR TREK films. Since both Quinto and Friend are equally unconvincing on screen and share no apparent chemistry, rooting for one character over the other is determined entirely by the audience’s emotional connection to Hannah Ware, who unfortunately is predictable, boring, and so by-the-book that the nun’s in the movie theatre made a new best friend.
But these repeated comparisons to THE MATRIX are unfair. Nobody was expecting HITMAN: AGENT 47 to be a work of genius. In fact, all that was expected was some dumb, fun action, but the film maliciously fails to deliver on the latter. Consequently, comparing it to THE MATRIX is just a bummer for the Wachowskis, because HITMAN: AGENT 47 is really just a culmination of the influences that THE MATRIX has had on action cinema.
However, the film does manage to do something absolutely fascinating that should be taken note of: it moves at an incredibly fast pace despite never getting anywhere It sets up an action scene with little to no information as to why the audience should care or root for anyone on screen, only to throw the audience into a new set piece seconds later. The plot is only serviced through exposition-heavy dialogue that helps segue the explosive set-pieces. Unfortunately, these quickly edited, narrowly shot action scenes are so exhausting to watch that paying attention during the conversations is damn near impossible.
But the absolute highlight in the film’s sins is its execution of film form. Mimicking another filmmaker or style is one thing, but failing pathetically at doing the same is another. HITMAN: AGENT 47 plays out as if a filmmaker attempted a shot-for-shot remake of his favorite action scenes from TERMINATOR and THE MATRIX, but soon realized they only had one lens at their disposal. The camerawork feels so aggressively lazy that even the most generic shots of Agent 47 walking in slow-motion feel like they’ve been shot with the wrong focal length. During fist fights, shots are consistently far too close, and audiences never enjoy longer wide shots in order to appreciate any of the stunt work, most likely due to the fact that most of the stunt work is fudged to begin with. What’s disappointing is that this makes the action sequences disastrously dull, causing the film’s most important quality to fall completely short of expectations.
HITMAN: AGENT 47 is embarrassingly incompetent and is tied with BALLISTIC: ECKS VS. SEVER as probably the worst popcorn shoot ’em up of all time. It’s far more insulting than an independent film that completely misses the mark due to the fact that it’s a studio-financed popcorn movie that should have made for decent entertainment. But every spoken word, visual decision, and casting choice feels uncomfortably misguided. For a tentpole project that definitely attempted to tackle its action sequences with a certain over-the-top charm, the entire resulting product feels bizarrely phoned-in. Ultimately, the filmmakers forgot one simple detail: being over-the-top is fine, but when it’s done without charm, why should anyone care?
This review originally appeared here.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend