By Thomas Simpson
Cinema has had a precarious relationship with video games. Despite the latter adopting a more cinematic style, studios have had trouble getting adaptations right. No one can ever forget the mess that was Super Mario Bros. and many would argue it didn’t get much better from there.
Xavier Gens’ Hitman (based off the game of the same name with Timothy Olyphant as the lead) promised to revolutionize the genre. It didn’t, but despite the criticism the film was vastly underrated. Olyphant didn’t reprise the role so a reboot was in order. Rupert Friend would play the assassin in Aleksander Bach’s Hitman: Agent 47. Expectations were low but it was always best not to expect too much.
Agent 47 (Friend) is a master assassin. He feels no compassion or fear, instead he is solely dedicated to his mission. When he is hired to kill a woman name Katia he encounters resistance from a mysterious John Smith (Zachary Quinto). Smith explains to Katia that he’s there to protect her and help her find her father. He isn’t all he seems, and neither is Katia who possesses unique abilities similar to 47.
Credit has to be given to Bach for his ability to infuse elements of the video game into the movie without it feeling like a game in itself. He and writer Skip Woods (who also wrote Gens’ Hitman) have peppered the story with Easter Eggs yet it doesn’t feel forced. Sadly the more explosive set-pieces look like a game as a result of poor CGI.
The fight scenes are exciting with the opening gun battle infusing elements of Gun Fu into the battle. It’s also pretty violent without being grotesquely graphic. The fights between Agent 47 and Smith are a welcome reminder of old school action scenes with Quinto hamming it up just the right amount.
Despite the humor injected into Hitman: Agent 47, it does take itself too seriously at times. The plot lacks logic and is littered with holes. It does have a great pace, and despite one dreary family reunion, it doesn’t drag. Bach has made an action flick and provides plenty of it.
Despite the inevitable clichés, the filmmakers are cautious to avoid others. Friend is a reliable 47 with stoicism and a cold demeanor. It would have been too tempting to peel back the layers to explore his emotional depth, and despite teasing it, it’s thankfully sidestepped and handled more subtly at the film’s conclusion.
Hitman: Agent 47 doesn’t break any new ground and probably won’t do much for the reputation of video game movies. It is a decent action thriller that is worth a watch, especially if you liked recent efforts like John Wick. The mid-credits sting teases a sequel, and although this is unlikely it wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to the series.