“’Hitman: Agent 47’ stands out for about 47 painful reasons”
Director: Aleksander Bach
Writers: Skip Woods, Michael Finch
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: 08/21/15
“Hitman: Agent 47” – Movies and television have heaped countless piles of secret agents on the big and small screens over the past few decades, but very few individual characters truly stand out by their names alone. Ethan Hunt and Jack Bauer come to mind right away. Of course, James Bond is universally known as the most famous secret agent, and 007 is his alias. Agent 99 is Maxwell Smart’s partner in the spy spoof “Get Smart”, and Agents J and K constantly try to scope out aliens in the “Men in Black” films.
Agent 47 – an enhanced human who is programmed with super strength, speed and intelligence - is featured in the popular video game “Hitman”, and he arrived in the movies in 2007 as well. Now, in 2015, the infamous bald badass - this time played by Rupert Friend - is back in cineplexes everywhere to cause massive mayhem in “Hitman: Agent 47”.
Unfortunately, after watching this film, to me, 47 signified the number of movies from which it borrowed, not the agent himself. Well, I am exaggerating just a little, but I noted specific plot points or action sequences which absolutely reminded me of memorable moments in “The Terminator”, “Halloween”, “Underworld”, “The Matrix”, any Tarantino film, and “Resident Evil”. The first five mentions represent terrific movies, but “Resident Evil” is not one of those. Regrettably for the audience, the tacky production values and overall disorganized vibe of “Hitman: Agent 47” seemed like a cinematic first cousin to the always unsatisfying and jumbled “Resident Evil” films. (Note: “Resident Evil” was first a video game as well. Coincidence?)
The movie begins with a flashing montage of violent images and science fiction mischief as a narrator says statements like, “The history of man is defined by war,” and “In 1967, (blah blah blah) created the perfect killing machine.” The audience basically now understands a secret program modified human beings to give them special powers. They are called agents, and Agent 47 is one of them.
With a completely dispassionate persona – and garnering a black business suit with a red tie - this guy can walk into any military style compound and kill everyone one in sight with the efficiency of Taylor Swift selling out arenas on any random 10am Ticketmaster morning. With the moves of Neo and Agent Smith from “The Matrix”, Agent 47 can dazzle a rabid action movie audience with sadistic gunplay, and he offers quite a few scenes which raise a communal “Ouch!” from the audience.
On the other hand, his creators left him void of emotion, and Friend certainly tries his best to zap all feeling from his character. The result is the audience does not know what “makes him tick”, and after a short while, we do not rightly care. From a soulless perspective, the movie spectators simply sit back and watch Agent 47’s business of snapping necks and plugging bullet holes in every baddie in Austria, Germany and Singapore, and business is a boomin’!
Through this violent haze, 47 and another agent-type named John Smith (Zachary Quinto) are simultaneously looking for a woman (Hannah Ware) who could be the key to starting or destroying a new agent program. Quinto has some good moments, but Ware’s does not breathe any life into her character, and this leaves the audience with a pointless cat and mouse game. On the other hand, director Aleksander Bach does take us to Singapore and delivers some spectacular views and set pieces in this beautiful tropical urban paradise. In fact, some other action scenes offer great potential, but then the camera drops into slow motion, and would-be straight-up moments become over stylized, silly and tired. At the end of the day, we have an unfeeling killing machine on a mission in which we do not have much interest. That does not seem like a good formula for success. Surprisingly, I am probably going to always remember Agent 47, but I’ll probably follow those thoughts with “Ouch!” (1.5/4 stars)