I really think Hollywood should accept the fact – movies based on video games just don’t work! I am not a big time gamer, its only on certain occasions I have interacted with a gaming console, a fact which partly disqualifies me as a geek! As a result, when I walk into this kind of movies, my judgements are based on the film itself, not on how the game has translated on screen. Maybe that’s the reason why unlike many others I have enjoyed and supported the Resident Evil movies. Even though years later I did research on how the original game plot line worked and of course checking out the very under rated anime movies helped. The reason (according to me) why the Milla Jovovich starring series works is because they have attempted to stand as independent properties by just borrowing elements rather than going in for complete fan servicing, I guess the same goes for the Silent Hills based films. But in general the most literal and respective term to use for other games based movies would be – ‘They suck!’. Bad films in general!
One of the main reasons the earlier EuropaCorp film starring Timothy Olyphant in the titular role of a chrome-domed, genetically engineered, emotionless contract killer from not so far back in 2007 failed, was that it went right into the fan servicing department, as a result, for 1st time viewers (like me) who had no idea of the rich history of the characters, were left hazed and confused, & gamers being gamers disapproved the film citing their own reasons. I hate to say it but we’re going to have to wait and see how Warcraft turns out to see if a truly great video game movie can be made. Yet despite all that, I had high hopes for this film from the trailer. It looked like a balls to the wall action flick that didn’t hold anything back. The trailer for this film was done very well. It reeked of blood and guts and fast paced action and I was psyched. Unfortunately, hamstrung by a muddled script the film falls back on a uneven pacing and flashy visuals to gloss over the film’s obvious storytelling flaws.
Yes, despite an intriguing first half-hour that teases the characters’ motivations, the rest of the film is unfortunately as straight-forward as it gets in plotting the uninteresting cat & mouse game. Much like the earlier movie, the plot for this film seems more complex than what it should be. Its not hard to follow but there just seems to be so much to it. The one thing this film does better than the first is the representation of Agent 47 himself, it was much better and closer to the game (based on whatever little I know about it).
While director Aleksander Bach deserves points for style, and seriously there are some really unique shot scenes and he uses color and stark contrasts to create a unique look, but the plot & the pace lacks where it should not have. This should have felt more like The Transporter and less like a Mission Impossible wannabe. The story follows Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), a genetically engineered assassin that possesses enhanced senses, speed, and intelligence. All of these traits make him an extremely deadly force to be reckoned with. He is in pursuit of a woman named Katia (Hannah Ware), who is looking for her father, the Agent programme’s lead scientist Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds). She gets into the middle of a conspiracy involving a corporation named Syndicate lead by head honcho Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) who is trying to use her to find the scientist to create more super assassins like Agent 47. Fortunately, Agent 47 doesn’t want there to be any more experiments like him and begins to train Katia to protect herself and find her father. Also in pursuit of them is Syndicate’s very own flawed super soldier John Smith (Zachary Quinto). Anyone who’s ever harbored the dream of seeing Singapore feature prominently in a Hollywood movie will certainly be pleased with this film, which features iconic landmarks such as Gardens by the Bay and Marina South in their full glory. A pivotal supporting character is seen admiring the orchids in the Gardens’ Cloud Forest dome, before taking a stroll along the OCBC Skyway. The headquarters of a sinister group known as the Syndicate Organisation is situated right in the heart of Marina South, against the backdrop of the Marina Bay Financial Centre and Asia Square towers.
The less you think about the plot, the more you are likely to enjoy the visceral pleasures that the film offers. Like I mentioned before, the action here is brutal and pulsating, with heads blown off, bodies sucked into giant jet engines, limbs slashed and blood basically splattering everywhere (and for those who are wondering, much of the bloodletting takes place in interiors rather than exteriors, so don’t get your hopes up about seeing all that happening along our streets). Director Bach choreographs and executes the action with gory flair, and fans of the Interactive game will be glad to know that he makes the effort to retain its aesthetics. The action is brought to us by the same people that gave us John Wick so it’s nice to see some care was put into that part of the movie.Yet no matter how diverting the shootouts or fisticuffs may be, there is no hiding the fact that the characters are under-written.
It’s understandable that the team wanted to create larger than life plot, but the process needs more delicacy than taking and throwing in a bunch of popular gimmicks from Terminator to Minority Report, then hope it would work or audience would suspend their belief. Granted, video games use the same narrative, but then it gets ridiculously over-the-top and even borderline supernatural.
Though Rupert Friend makes for a surprisingly good assassin – and we are not just talking about his looks – the actor best known for his supporting part in Showtimes‘ Homeland is shortchanged by the script’s reluctance to develop fully the theme of choice versus blind obedience. He is much more emotionless & believable than Timothy Olyphant (the star of the 2007 film). There is no romantic angle which is a very good thing and using the disguises was a great addition to the plot as well. Friend could definitely continue this character very well, provided their is a sequel, which I highly doubt. Hannah Ware is also very good as Katia, the mysterious girl that the Syndicate and 47 want. Ware makes a sufficiently harried female protagonist. She is actually the perfect balance to 47’s serious, emotionless character. Ware also kicks some serious butt and holds her own making her a great hero as well. Zachary Quinto is utterly wasted in a role that doesn’t quite know what to do with him after it is revealed that he is actually working for the Syndicate. For a talented actor like him, this role wasted his potential. Both Thomas Kretschmann and Rolf Kanies should have bigger roles and its hard to say they do good or bad because their roles are so small and yet significant.
On the whole, Hitman: Agent 47 has some very intensely choreographed fight scenes going for it, but yet falls in the same category of failed movies based on video games thanks to its corny script and abysmal plot. Underneath all its pretty looking cinematic effects, the film is sadly a misfire.
Overall Rating: 3.2