a critiQal film review Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

Plot: Genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, he's the culmination of decades of research, endowed with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. Known only as Agent 47 (Friend), his latest target is a corporation that plans to unlock the secret of his past to create an army of killers even more powerful than him. With help from a young woman, the elite assassin confronts revelations about his own origins in an epic battle with his deadliest foe.

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  • ...this video game adaptation is a popcorn-munching flashy action pic with some better-than-expected acting. And that's okay.

After seeing the only okay Hitman (2007), we wanted to check out the reboot, Hitman: Agent 47, but had never gotten around to it. This weekend, we finally got our chance.

So, would the unknown Rupert Friend do a better job than Timothy Olyphant? Or is this just another video game series destined to never see a decent film made of it?

Rupert Friend does a better job in the title role in Hitman: Agent 47. Unlike his predecessor Timothy Olyphant, he doesn’t bring any preconceived notions from the viewer, and is able to pull off the bald look much, much better. Sure, he’s still a little skinny for the role of unstoppable killer, but he is able to bring through a bit of personality and still pull off the cold, calculating vibe he’s aiming for.

Hannah Ware breathes some fresh new life into the franchise, and her role in Hitman: Agent 47 as the damsel-in-distress type (with a big twist) is refreshing. Sure, she doesn’t have the same on-screen presence as Linda Hamilton in the original The Terminator (1984) (or the rougher edge displayed in Bad Boys (1995)), but then again, Friend isn’t really competition against Schwarzenegger in his heyday either. Hannah is able to bring along the viewer as she’s thrust from one crazy situation to another, however, and that’s the most one can expect from her in this type of film.

While the games themselves have always been about stealth, the video game adaptations are, rightly so, more about the action. And the term “stylized violence” is used for utmost effect here. Okay, so it’s not on par with a John Woo flick, but special effects and lots of stunt doubles help create a CGI-induced reality worth watching. Hitman: Agent 47, while sometimes looking like a video game on-screen, delivers lots of well-done action, with a fun “Wow” moment or two to keep the viewer excited.

Of course, fans of the games, won’t enjoy Hitman: Agent 47. Then again, they won’t give any film that amps the action any credit, as it’s changing the very nature of the games they have become fanatically involved with for years. For other viewers, however, there’s something about the flashy style of Hitman: Agent 47 that will appeal.

In fact, for the first part of the film, viewers should enjoy the popcorn-munching Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) homage they are treated to, as both Zachary Quinto (in a decent, if mentally undemanding role) plays the John Connor to Friend’s Terminator, both vying for Hannah Ware’s Katia (and, as a bonus, be on the lookout for a brief sequence from Jurgen Prochnow near the beginning of the film). Then, just when the viewer thinks they know where Hitman: Agent 47 is headed, it puts in a surprise twist, and suddenly the film opens up into a whole new realm of possibilities.

Unfortunately, the switch to this new direction is done so suddenly, the viewer isn’t quite sure what the heck happened at first. But, they will shrug and go along with it. And quite honestly, that’s because at its heart Hitman: Agent 47 is a popcorn-munching, rather mindless, action flick. And that’s okay.

Sure it may have illusions of grandeur (a better than expected cast, and the original Terminator 2 themed storyline), but from its pace, which yanks viewers quickly from one action sequence to the next, Hitman: Agent 47, obviously, is just wanting viewers to sit back, munch some popcorn, and enjoy the flash. And on that, at least, this version delivers.

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