DIR: Aleksander Bach • WRI: Skip Woods, Michael Finch • PRO: Adrian Askarieh, Charles Gordon, Alex Young • DOP: Óttar Guðnason • ED: Nicolas De Toth • DES: Sebastian T. Krawinkel • MUS: Marco Beltrami • CAST: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds
If the Bourne films and the Terminator films had some kind of weird progeny, Hitman: Agent 47 would very likely be the result. However, in taking plot elements but none of the visual or multi-layered inspiration from the franchises, we end up with a rather unoriginal action flick that entertains but fails to inspire.
Continuing the relatively recent trend of adapting video games for film, Hitman follows a ruthless master assassin mysteriously named 47 who is looking for the founder of the genetically-engineered agent program of which he is a product. As part of his mission, he must locate Katia van Dees, a young woman who is searching for connections to her own past as she cannot remember who she is or where she comes from. Katia learns from a member of the CIA, John Smith, that Agent 47 is out for her life, but she soon discovers that 47 may actually be the key to her past. All three soon end up on a chase that brings them across the globe.
Star of the titular role, Rupert Friend’s previous performances have included charming gentlemen in costume dramas like The Young Victoria (2009) and Pride and Prejudice (2005), though he is probably best-known for his role as Quinn, a professional assassin in Showtime series Homeland (2011- ). It was this role that led director Aleksander Bach to cast Friend, and the similarities between Quinn and Agent 47 are utilised effectively. Friend is not only a satisfying lead but an exemplary one, and stands on his own feet in what is an already saturated market of action hero actors. The character of 47 is ruthless and delightfully suave. Zachary Quinto (Spock in the Star Trek reboot) also proves to be a welcome addition to the cast in the role of John Smith while Irish actor Ciarán Hinds gives another talented performance, so that sustenance is somewhat added to the otherwise predictable and uninspired plot. While she does her best with an underwritten, clichéd role – ‘I don’t know who I am… now I do know who I am, and someone is going to pay!’ – Hannah Ware’s Katia is dull and unconvincing as an action heroine.
The sets are sleek and the booming soundtrack evokes high-octane energy. With its snazzy suits, expensive cars and blood splattering the screen, everything about this movie indicates its acute attempts to be considered ‘cool’ by its audience. To give credit where it is due, perhaps Polish director Bach simply wanted to have fun for his debut feature. After all, the film gives just what the doctor ordered – car chases, explosions, bloody assassinations, and hand-to-hand combat that is well-choreographed (which may be owed to the stunts and action crew coming from 87-11 Action Design, whose work has featured in Jurassic World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and John Wick ). However, with this year’s action movie offerings thus far including the perfectly-paced, brilliantly self-aware John Wick as well as the blood-pumping, visually-arresting Mad Max: Fury Road, Hitman simply cannot compete with its generic predecessors. Its ending seems to promise a sequel, but we hope it will be given a miss.
15A (See IFCO for details)