US Release Date: 08-21-2015
Directed by: Aleksander Bach
- Rupert Friend, as
- Agent 47
- Hannah Ware, as
- Zachary Quinto, as
- John Smith
- Ciaran Hinds, as
- Thomas Kretschmann, as
- Le Clerq
- Angelababy, as
- Jurgen Prochnow, as
- Dan Bakkedahl, as
- Jerry Hoffmann, as
- Rolf Kanies, as
- Dr. Delriego
- Sebastian Hulk as
Rupert Friend and Hannah Ware in Hitman: Agent 47.
Given how poor the 2007 Hitman movie was, you'd think the makers of this one couldn't help but make a better one. The bar was set pretty low, even for a movie based on a videogame. Despite that though, this movie struggles just to be equally as bad. The best it has to offer is the occasional stylishly filmed scene of violence.
In his review of the 2007 film, my brother Eric described it as, "about an assassin running around eastern Europe with a hot accented chick, killing a bunch of people along the way." Well, change eastern to western and include Singapore and that description remains accurate for this reboot. Oh sure, the script throws in some other stuff and tries to provide a reason for all the killing, but it's completely beside the point, which is to allow Agent 47, a genetically modified super-assassin, to ply his trade, quite often in slow motion.
Paul Walker was originally cast as the new Agent 47 back in 2013, replacing Timothy Olyphant from the 2007 film. However, Walker's untimely death delayed production as the filmmakers sought a new star. English actor, Rupert Friend, whose background in such films as Young Victoria and Pride and Prejudice didn't make him the most obvious choice, eventually won the role. He certainly looks the part and fits the suit and red tie, but is rarely given a chance to be anything but a blank slate. There's very little opportunity provided for character development.
Hannah Ware as Katia, the female lead, fares slightly better. She looks good, handles the action well, and even gets the chance to show some emotion. True, her story is cliche ridden and about what you'd expect from a video game and not a feature film, but at least she gets a character arc, even if it is an unbelievable one as she goes from a timid nobody to super-powered killer in the course of just a couple of days.
First time director Aleksander Bach does handle the action scenes well. Sure, they borrow heavily from The Matrix style of filming, but they are nice to look at. The final battle with Katia and Agent 47 fighting in tandem is almost ballet-like as they slide and glide around each other, dispatching nameless bad guys by the dozens. Unfortunately, eye candy will only take you so far.
Despite its poor reception, the original Hitman film earned a profit, as this one has done. It's yet to be seen whether or not it will earn enough to warrant the sequel suggested by the mid-credits sequence, but I hope it doesn't. If you're intrigued by this character, you're better off playing one of the many video games featuring him. If you're just in the mood for a film about international espionage and assassination, there's a plethora of other, better, films available.
Rupert Friend in Hitman: Agent 47
I like the character of 47. He is a man who has been raised, medicated and trained to be a robot. He takes orders and kills as assigned, without any emotional reaction what-so-ever to the death he dishes out. That adds to some of the exciting action scenes Scott alluded to. Because of his training and drug enhanced mind and body, we can excuse some of the unrealistic stunts, and just enjoy them as the exploits of a super assassin. And his outfit, high lighted by the red tie, is pretty damn cool looking.
What really makes, or could make, 47 truly interesting is showing us how he begins to become human. Timothy Olyphant's 47 showed signs of his burgeoning humanity by having a curiosity about sex and an attraction to Olga Kurylenko. Rupert Friend's 47 starts to show some compassion by saving Hannah Ware and training her to defend herself. There are countless action films and heroes out there. 47 slowly developing some emotions truly distinguishes him from the pack.
As that is his most unique quality, it must be explored very slowly or 47 will lose all that makes him different. Scott complained that there is very little opportunity provided for character development but there cannot be, at least not in one film. 47 is a man who does not know how to be one. He is very proficient in killing and in suppressing his emotions. Watching him struggle to maintain that control could make for a fascinating character study in any future installments, if done right.
Katia is the catalyst that starts to waken the man inside of 47. He succinctly states to her, "We determine who we are by what we do." Defining himself as a cold blooded, emotionless killer. He goes on, trying to convince Katia that she is the same, "You can't fight who you are, Katia. You'll lose." But she is not convinced, "Was that what happened to you? You fought who you are, and you lost? People can change." 47 responds, "Don't put your faith in me. You'll be disappointed." I find it so interesting that he is caught between all that he has been told and conflicting feelings he is starting to develop.
Sure, this is not a great film but it has potential and is entertaining on a superficial level. Also, it keeps the focus more on 47 than the first version did. I would eagerly watch a sequel.
Photos © Copyright 20th Century Fox (2015)