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Hitman: Agent 47
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Another Reboot To The Head"
1 stars

At some brief lull amidst the general chaos that is "Hitman: Agent 47," I seem to recall a moment when a character turns to the titular anti-hero and asks something along the lines of "Why would anyone want any more of you?" This is a sentiment that will no doubt resonate strongly with many members of the audience as well. After all, it was only eight years ago that they rejected "Hitman," the first attempt to translate the best-selling video game franchise into a hyper-violent live-action film series, so thoroughly that most people outside of its immediate target audience may have forgotten that it even existed. Nevertheless, no doubt working under the impression that if it was good enough for "Fantastic Four," it would be good enough for "Hitman," Fox has decided to give it another go around to see if a reboot less than a decade after the original might be just the thing to bring the property to life. Though the end results may not be quite as dire as that new "Fantastic Four" boondoggle, it is still such a dull exercise in by-the-numbers action filmmaking that it appears that all involved only gave the minimum effort required to create something that could be projected on a multiplex screen and not a bit more.

For those of you whose lives have not allowed you enough time to play violent video games or watch forgettable Timothy Olyphant movies, "Hitman" centers on a man known only as Agent 47, the end product of a shadowy government plot developed in the late 1960's to create an army of genetically superior killers with advanced fighting skills and the ability to push all emotions away in order to carry out their orders with ruthless efficiency. Although the program was shut down years ago--possibly because of the central flaw that a secretive assassin that looks like Billy Corgan with his bald pate, dresses like Donald Trump with his power suits and has an enormous bar code tattooed in the back of his head is pretty much a walking compilation of distinguishing marks--47 (Rupert Friend) is still out there kicking ass and as our story opens, he invades a seemingly impregnable facility and lays waste to dozens of anonymous goons in a sequence that equates the body count of a typical Luc Besson shootout but lacks even a trace of the visual grace that he usually brings to such moments. The scene does, however, offer up one of the more unintentionally hilarious lines of dialogue from any movie this year not named "Fifty Shades of Grey" when the head of the facility, after 47 gets the drop on him, tells him that he is being monitored at all times and remarks "If my heart stops beating, my security detail will come rushing in!"

As it turns out, 47 has gotten wind of a plan by a devious entity known as, I kid you not, the Syndicate Organization, to reinstate the program that developed him and is hell-bent on stopping them from doing so. The key to restarting the program is to track down the long-vanished Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the man who created the Agents in the first place, and the only way to do that is to head off to Berlin to track down and recover Katia (Hannah Ware), a mysterious young woman who has an odd ability to foresee the very near future, has an unexplained connection to Litvenko even though she doesn't even know his name and, speaking of efforts to revive pop culture items from the previous decade that never quite caught on, appears to have been part of a secret government plot to clone Rhona Mitra. Also along for the ride, which eventually lands everyone in Singapore, is another guy (Zachary Quinto) who shows up out of nowhere to find Katia and warn her that 47 is out to kill her. Sure, Katia's willingness to trust him at first seems a little odd--even someone without the ability to see the future should realize that someone is bad news when they look like Eli Roth and claim that their name is John Smith--but it does lead to the second most inadvertently hilarious line of dialogue when Katia in all seriousness inquires "Is your name really John Smith?"

Of course, none of this really matters in the long run because it is obvious right from the start that "Hitman: Agent 47" is not intended to be anything more than a haphazardly assembled collection of super-violent set-pieces in which people are shot, stabbed, smashed, slashed and, in a few especially unlucky cases, sucked into a handy turbine engine and reduced into pulp. (The engine gets so much screen time during its big scene that it almost deserves co-star billing--it certainly turns in one of the better performances.) This may not exactly be filmmaking at its most noble and profound but when placed in the right hands and made with the right sense of style, such things can be exhilarating to watch. However, that is not the case here because the screenplay is a terrible mishmash that is as simplistic as can be in the early going, and not in the good sense, and the later scenes are so confused that not even the screenwriters seem entirely clear of what is going on. (There is a brief bonus bit during the end credits that I am still at a total loss to explain, though I must insist that none of you offer up your explanations lest madness set in.)

For his part, debuting director Aleksander Bach fils the screen with gunfire, explosions, screeching tires and gouts of blood but offers them up in such a perfunctory manner that the film seems to have been entirely by a computer, albeit one without Final Cut. As for the identifiably flesh-and-blood participants, Friend has even less personality than the character calls for, people like Quinto and Hinds are wasted and in a summer where women have proven to be a refreshingly dominant force on the screen, it is disappointing to realize that despite the special skills her character possesses, Hannah Ware's only remotely memorable moment comes when she goes for a brief skinny dip in a hotel pool in between attempts on her life.

As colorless and formulaic as its title, "Hitman: Agent 47" is a film that doesn't seem to have been made for any particular reason other than to attempt to make a quick score at the usually anemic late-August box office from people who want to go to a movie but who have already seen the big hits more times than they care to admit. Movie lovers will hate it because it looks like a bunch of cut scenes from a video game that they would never dream of playing and gamers will hate it because it bears precious little resemblance to the game that it is ostensibly based upon. On the bright side, you don't have to be genetically engineered to predict what is in store for this one--a quick run in and out of theaters before landing in heavy rotation on basic cable, where it will be all but forgotten until some brainiac at Fox gets the bright idea that maybe the third time will be the charm.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=27224&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/20/15 21:55:52
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User Comments

1/13/16 mr.mike Fair to middling action effort. 3 stars
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