By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Based on the popular Hitman video games series, this reboot adaptation packs a decent punch in the action department. However, when it comes to story and characters, this movie is flavored with stale ingredients. The first attempted adaptation, Hitman, was released in 2007 and impressed me even less. Considering that I actually had more fun watching Hitman: Agent 47 than the first film, it is great to see that, at least, some improvement has been achieved. Still, if the producers of these movies wish to elevate the quality of this series for theatrical success, there is still much room for advancement.
Rupert Friend stars as the titular 47, a professional assassin, genetically altered and groomed since birth to be a brilliant killer for a private organization known as the International Contracts Agency. Agent 47’s latest assignment has a direct connection with his employers, making the accomplishment of his mission tremendously imperative. Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) has lived most of her life as an orphan on the run. Katia is the only living person who may know the whereabouts of Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the genius scientist whose work led to the creation of the Agents program. 47’s mission is to capture both Katia and Litvenko and deal with them before CIA agent John Smith (Zachary Quinto) does. The CIA wants Litvenko in its possession, as he may know the weaknesses of his creations.
Director Alexksander Bach can compose and direct some impressive and stylish action sequences, though that style is not all that original. However, the main culprits of unoriginality are writers Skip Woods and Michael Finch. Just about every character, and several of the plot elements feel lifted from other superior films. As I watched the movie, I automatically recognized elements and beats from the Terminator films, John Woo movies, and several others. The development of the characters is not all that interesting, save for a couple of compelling moments. I realize video games are often derived from a multitude of cinematic influences, but that doesn’t excuse the filmmakers from wearing out already shabby cliches and tropes.
On the more positive end, the movie does have some fun action sequences. Not all of them work superbly, though. Some of the editing tricks and CGI cheats play out too conspicuously. When they do work, the explosive flash of gunfire and the high-speed stunt driving should entertain audiences. Even though the characters suffer from dull writing, I had no major problems with the acting of the cast.
As much as I liked Timothy Olyphant in the first film as Agent 47, Rupert Friend performs adequately in the reboot. The breathtakingly gorgeous Hannah Ware delivers the strongest and most emotionally charged performance in the film, proving that she has talent in addition to beauty. Zachary Quinto, best known as Spock in the new Star Trek films and Sylar from Heroes, offers a satisfactory performance as CIA Agent John Smith, but his character suffers from lame two-dimensional writing and development. This is a shame since Quinto has the talent to handle characters with greater depth. Actors Ciaran Hinds and Thomas Kretschmann also deliver competent turns in their respective roles, but they too have the troubles of limited (Hinds) and no character development (Kretschmann).
For a first time helming, director Aleksander Bach doesn’t exactly impress, but he does show promise as an action filmmaker. Should film producers desire to keep this franchise going, they should consider hiring writers with bold and exciting ideas. They should also find writers who can develop their characters in truly fascinating ways. Perhaps, producers should learn from Tom Cruise, who, as a producer of the consistently exciting Mission Impossible movie franchise, has managed to hire talented writers and directors. These movies excel because the filmmakers know better than to simply rely on stunts and sensory movie magic. The real movie magic should begin when an imaginative writer starts typing the first words of the screenplay.