This is not the first time that someone has attempted to bring the video game upon which HITMAN: AGENT 47 is based to the big screen. The last one, HITMAN starring a pre-Justified Timothy Olyphant went down in flames, and this one joins its still-smoldering carcass. It’s not that making a film out of a video game is impossible, but it is very, very hard to do well. And this attempt, sprung from a sloppy and puerile script, has little to recommend it, and even less to warrant the sequel it so obviously hoped to spawn.
Rupert Friend is the new Agent, a genetically engineered assassin with enhanced reflexes and intelligence, no pesky emotions to muddle his resolve, and a persnickety sense of keeping things tidy. He does a yeoman’s job in the role, smoothly dispatching his targets while never breaking a sweat or rumpling his Italian black wool suit; coolly arranging his weapons with a precision that bespeaks an equally enhanced OCD condition. He also has the right sort of skull to make the shaved head work. Whether taking on a squad armed with machine guns using only two handguns and a pair of knives, or zooming through the streets of downtown Singapore, Friend has the fine sense of detached efficiency a genetically engineered assassin should have.
He also keeps a straight face while delivering laughable dialogue that aspires to the profound and misses the mark badly.
His mission, as with so many action flicks, is to find the daughter of a missing scientist (Ciaran Hinds) who holds the key to creating more agents like himself. The scientist saw the error of his ways many years ago and went into hiding leaving his toddler daughter behind after his wife was killed. Never mind. And never mind that the outfit Agent 47 works for is trying to beat another outfit, in the person of Zachary Quinto, to said daughter for similar reasons. It’s all an extended excuse for repetitive action sequences involving Agent 47 taking out small armies sent against him. Sure, there are variations on the theme. Sometimes he’s in a hotel. Sometimes he’s in a jet engine factory. Sometimes in a greenhouse full of orchids and other assassins who, rather than icing their target at first sight, kindly wait for someone to make an egregiously expository speech before pulling out their guns and commencing a hail of bullets. It’s in the same vein as Agent 47’s acquired gal-pal, Katya (Hannah Ware), whose talent is anticipating situations with even more precision that 47 himself, except when the plot needs her to be stupid. Which is a lot.
I’ll give you that a rain of grappling hooks immobilizing a car in the midst of a busy metropolitan street registers highly on the nifty meter, but it’s far too piddling in comparison to the morass that is the rest of the film, even if there is a scathingly wicked pun on someone’s name that made my heart skip a beat.C
HITMAN: AGENT 47 attracted some fine on-screen talent, and one can only surmise that a free trip to Singapore was the attraction. And perhaps a promise to Friend that he could keep the suits that are so meticulously tailored to his elegant frame. I hope he gets to wear them under better circumstances.