Ah Hitman. I’ve been looking at the back of your bald head since I first garrotted an unfortunate guard all the way back in 2000.
Fifteen years on and the series has become much more action-oriented, and in the process has spawned two high octane film adaptations.
I personally thought 2007’s Hitman was a bit of silly action fun, partly due to Timothy Olyphant’s bizarre casting and the frequent bouts of bloody violence.
So the idea of another glossy adaptation was pretty appealing.
And Aleksander Bach’s new film is certainly glossy, making the most of its relatively small $35 million budget to produce an action-packed, globe travelling adventure that throws out a few thrills in its 96 minute running time.
Rupert Friend plays genetically enhanced assassin Agent 47, as a late replacement for Paul Walker following his tragic death.
And he’s certainly a better actor than Walker and brings everything he can to the character. His performance is one of the best things about the film – carefully contained and pushing back hard against the often awkward script.
Skip Woods penned the screenplay here – a man who has a history of terrible writing on films like Swordfish, X-Men Origins Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard.
And he really mangles things here, right from the overly wordy voice over intro to clunky scenes of exposition and dialogue.
It’s tough to listen to at times, but at least the plot is simple. Or rather underdeveloped.
Agent 47 throws out a good number of action scenes, mostly concerning Friend killing some nameless henchmen and going toe to toe with some superheroic enemies.
There’s a bit of bloodletting but it’s mostly offscreen, begging the question of why they pursued an R-rating for the film.
The punching is fine if massively over-edited (particularly in the case of co-star Hannah Ware’s kinetic moments) but the real issue lies in the dodgy CG effects.
This isn’t an expensive film but an over-reliance on poor quality digital stunt doubles in many scenes really took me out of the moment thanks to stiff animation and rudimentary face replacement.
If you can’t afford to do it well in CG, do it practically or not at all.
The main issue with the film is that it isn’t much fun. A little bit of self-aware humour or an actual gag wouldn’t have gone astray just for a bit of a variety.
Zachary Quinto and Ciaran Hinds try to liven things up but they’re hamstrung by the weight of the script.
Hitman Agent 47 isn’t as terrible as you may have heard, in fact it’s probably one of the better films based on a videogame in recent memory. But it doesn’t really have much of an identity, with middling action, a poor script and a strangely serious tone.