Action Crime

'Hitman: Agent 47' Film Review: A guilty pleasure for fans of the video game

August 21, 2015Ben MK

As the second time the "Hitman" video game series has been brought to the big screen, Hitman: Agent 47 has a lot to prove. The first attempt at adapting Io-Interactive's long-running stealth-action franchise, 2007's Hitman, was a critical misfire. Now a movie version of "Hitman" is getting a second chance, this time with Homeland's Rupert Friend wielding the infamous dual handguns of the bald, barcoded assassin.

Friend plays the titular Agent 47, a clone and a product of the Agent program. Genetically engineered to be smarter, faster, and unencumbered from both pain and emotion, 47 is ideally suited to his role as a stoic, nigh unstoppable killing machine. Which is why ever since the Agent program was shelved, the evil multinational conglomerate Syndicate International has been trying to create more like him.

The problem is that to do so they must track down the disappeared geneticist behind the program, Dr. Litvenko (Ciarin Hinds), but the only way to do that is to find his daughter, Katia (Hannah Ware), who's so far proven just as elusive as her father. Still, that won't stop the Syndicate, whose shadowy leader, a man named Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann), has dispatched his own souped-up killer, the plainly codenamed John Smith (Zachary Quinto), to handle the job.

Naturally, 47's mission to save Katia (whose ties to her father's legacy run deeper than she thought) and prevent the Syndicate from resurrecting the Agent program sets the stage for a slew of engagingly frenetic action set-pieces. Among them, a sequence that has the pair making creative use of some industrial machinery to dispatch of a dozen or so armed assailants, and a high-speed car chase that ends with the bad guys using grappling hooks and zip lines to stop our protagonists dead in their tracks. In turn, commercial-turned-film director Aleksander Bach ensures the movie's R rating is well-earned, seldom forgoing an opportunity to have 47 inflict a bloody headshot or a bone-crunching blow upon his adversaries.

Unfortunately, that's not to say that Hitman: Agent 47 isn't without its flaws. On the contrary, dialogue can be unintentionally laughable at times, and there are logic loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. All things considered, however, screenwriters Skip Woods and Michael Finch do a fair job avoiding some of the pitfalls common to game-to-movie adaptations, striking up an entertaining balance between the desire to honor the character's 128-bit origins and the need to ground the plot in some semblance of reality. After all, this isn't high art, just escapist popcorn fun. And when you're talking about a movie that essentially plays out like a pastiche of the Bourne, Matrix and Resident Evil films, how can you go wrong?

Hitman: Agent 47 releases August 21st, 2015 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of R for sequences of strong violence, and some language. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 36 Mins.

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