“Hitman: Agent 47” opts for obvious style over effective substance, which might have partially worked through its turbulent editing and mile-a-minute pacing. But brief moments of artistry ultimately fail to mask inferior special effects and the lack of an original plot. Any audience versed in even a meager sampling of the past decade’s action movies will find nothing exceptional about this 2015 reboot. In fact, the addition of generic science-fiction elements subtracts from any suspense the film musters during its regular, violent clashes between heroes and villains. Medically heightened premonition and bulletproof skin are attributes not only inconsistent with the source material, but also unmanageable components that further distance the screen adaptation from both reality and credibility.
Growing up with enhanced senses and precognitive abilities, Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) searches ceaselessly for the man responsible for her condition, even though she can’t remember his identity. As her investigation draws her nearer to the mysterious figure, she’s confronted by an employee of Syndicate International, John Smith (Zachary Quinto), who claims he’s the only one that can protect her from a highly skilled assassin, dubbed Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), currently honing in on her location. As the dispassionate killer continues his onslaught, Katia must decide whom to trust if she hopes to live long enough to uncover the answers she seeks.
Just from the opening title graphics, it’s immediately apparent that the derivativeness of “Hitman: Agent 47” will be extreme. From the tired editing styles to the “Mission: Impossible” technology always at the ready, this is an enormously unnecessary exercise in reinvigorating a franchise that never had much potential in the first place – and in squeezing thrills from the most generic of concepts. A stone-faced killer devoid of all emotion and human attachments has never inspired a riveting cinematic enterprise, even when done with better precision and sharper scripting. Humanity is an essential component to any plot involving mercenaries as protagonists; 47’s monotonous emotionlessness never allows for viewer sympathy, permanently condemning the lead to general disregard.
Some of the cinematography isn’t half bad (an aerial shot of a clean white staircase being splattered by bright red blood is a stunning but rare artistic moment in an otherwise routine series of frames), a few stunts are amusing, and Marco Beltrami’s score is appropriate. But the fight choreography tries desperately (and futilely) to be cool, ignoring the awe that could have been exhilaratingly created through careful timing and clever subtleties. This movie has none of those notions, choosing instead to engage in abrasive heists of ideas from other actioners, including “The Terminator,” “The Matrix,” and even “Watchmen.” There are also the clichéd, obligatory uses of contrived science (like biogenetics experimentations, the engineering of human genes for survival programming, or the phrase “playing God”), frequent location changes for the sake of swarms of gunmen to descend on underequipped heroes, and an important map full of clippings, notes, drawings, and photos that can be scanned by ally and foe alike to reveal key locations.
The strong focus on a single purpose – violent action scenes – is unwavering, but the entertainment value from such a narrow vision is minimal. Furthermore, when superhuman attributes are bestowed on characters existing in the real world, the film loses all its legitimacy. Unrealistic cognition is somewhat forgivable, but instantly regenerating skin and extrasensory perception are woefully mismatched for a hitman picture – especially because elite assassins are established conventions that work well in the realm of crime thrillers, certainly without the use of specific definitions (particularly sci-fi) for their training and origins.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)