Action Blu-ray Review

'Hitman: Agent 47' Blu-ray Review: Videogame adaptation trades stealthy kills for balls-to-the-wall thrills

December 29, 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 near-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 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 (Thomas Kretschmann) has dispatched his own souped-up killer, 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. 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. Essentially a mash-up of the Bourne and Resident Evil films, Hitman: Agent 47 isn't high art, just escapist popcorn fun.

Whether it's an action sequence set in Berlin or Singapore, in a sleek office tower or in a dingy industrial facility, Hitman's picture quality is top-notch, exhibiting excellent clarity, strong contrast and deep black levels, with an abundance of fine detail (revealing everything from the pores on the actors' faces to the woven texture on some of the finely-tailored suits) and rich colors (especially Agent 47’s red tie and the red splashes of blood). Likewise, the movie's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix delivers an excellent acoustic experience, enveloping viewers in the film's pounding action-thriller score, as well as the sounds of gunfire, punches, explosions, revving engines and even a massive jet turbine. The only knock against this otherwise flawless technical presentation is that the volume of dialogue-only scenes seems noticeably lower than that of the action set-pieces.

Fox's one-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a 28-page “Hitman: Agent 47 - Official Movie Prequel Comic,” and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (4:03) - Three scenes ("Fabian Hanging," "Warehouse" and "Construction Fight").
  • The Hit Counter - A picture-in-picture track that provides the option to play the film with a running count of the various kills and injuries, as well as facts about the "Hitman" game series, concept art, animatics and storyboards.
  • Re-Imagining Hitman (6:02) - A look at the casting of Friend as the title character, his look and his trademark Silverballers, as well as Quinto’s villainous portrayal.
  • Ultimate Action: Staging the Fights (6:54) - A piece about the film’s fight choreography and stunt work, including a look at the characters’ different fighting styles and the various fights between 47 and John Smith.
  • Hitman: Agent 47 Comic - A slideshow version of the physical comic book included in this Blu-ray package, as written by F.J. DeSanto and illustrated by Jesús Hervás.
  • Making of the Comic Book (1:49) - A brief glimpse into the making of Boom! Studios’ “Hitman: Agent 47 - Official Movie Prequel Comic,” featuring panels from the comic, concept art and interview clips with its creators.
  • Promotional Featurettes (6:28) - Five brief featurettes ("Around the World," "Ultimate Hitman," "Who is John Smith," "Creating Katia Van Dees" and "Iconic") covering the film's locales, its title character, its villain, its female protagonist and how the filmmakers transitioned the iconic Agent 47 from the video game world to the film world.
  • Gallery - Twelve stills from the movie’s production.
  • Poster Gallery - Twelve posters for the film.
  • Theatrical Trailers (4:52) - Two trailers ("Theatrical Trailer 1" and "Theatrical Trailer 2").

Hitman: Agent 47 is available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment as of December 29th, 2015. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 36 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on August 21st, 2015.

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