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New Release Review - HITMAN: AGENT 47

Second adaptation of the popular video game.


Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Aleksander Bach

Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann




"The dialogue is simply atrocious, so bad it probably wouldn't make it into the cut scenes of the video game. The lack of effort on the page however isn't mirrored in the visuals; this is a simply stunning movie to behold."






Back in the dark days of the '00s, Hollywood decided there was gold in them there video game adaptation hills, forcing such monstrosities as two Tomb Raider installments, a bunch of Resident Evil sequels, and of course the original 2007 take on the Hitman franchise on largely unreceptive audiences (if gamers won't even leave their bedrooms to urinate, they're not going to leave the house to watch their beloved mythologies bastardised). Meanwhile, notorious German filmmaker Uwe Boll got in on the act by creating low budget cinematic spinoffs of lesser titles like House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and In the Name of the King. This new, uncalled for reboot feels like a blending of both those worlds, a Hollywood production directed by a German music video and commercials director, Hollywood hackery combined with Teutonic precision.
Thankfully, the movie has the good grace to skip the oft obligatory origin story, instead filling in the blanks with an exposition dump over the opening credits. We're then introduced to 47 (Rupert Friend), one of a line of genetically altered humans bred to be hitmen, and women. Like Frankenstein's monster attempting to destroy the Baron's lab, 47 wants to end the practice of breeding killers. To do this he needs to take down yet another shadowy organisation known as 'The Syndicate' (groan), enlisting the aid of fellow agent 90 (Hannah Ware).
The video game adaptation truly is the red-headed stepchild of the film industry. I can't imagine any director or writer dreams of some day bringing a pixelated saga to the screen, and the contempt screenwriters Michael Finch and Skip Woods have for this material is palpable. The dialogue is simply atrocious, so bad it probably wouldn't make it into the cut scenes of the video game. The plot is threadbare, moving along from level to level in stilted fashion. Characterisation is practically non-existent.
The lack of effort on the page however isn't mirrored in the visuals; this is a simply stunning movie to behold. Debut director Aleksander Bach gives us action sequences filled with more audacity and invention than we've seen in the entirety of Marvel's 'Uncinematic Universe', painting a series of inhuman rooms red with very human blood, like a tomato fight in an Apple store. His action is fast moving but always coherent. Unfortunately, thanks to the cheque-cashing nature of the script, we have no investment in the outcome of any of these balletic duels. Cinematographer Ottar Guonason, another relative newcomer, creates some startling images, painting the sort of digital night-scapes that would give Michael Mann pins and needles.
For the first act, the film leads us to believe Friend's bald-pated killer is the movie's villain - and Friend pulls it off, prowling corridors like a cross between the Terminator and Yul Brynner's malfunctioned Westworld cowboy - positing Ware as a Sarah Connor type and Zachary Quinto as her Kyle Reese figure. The fact that Quinto is an openly gay actor adds an intriguing, unspoken dynamic to the tension between his and Ware's characters. When the movie reverses Friend and Quinto's roles, all this collapses, and for all its pretty visuals, the movie never recovers.



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