Hitman: Agent 47 review: Great video game turns into a stupid action spectacle

Mihir Fadnavis

Sep 07, 2015 11:27:40 IST

Hitman was a great game series. When the first one came out in 2002, the world was not prepared for its awesomeness. Everyone was playing first person shooters like Halo and Call of Duty, which meant you picked any gun you liked and shot your way through hordes of lame enemies. Hitman introduced something radical – you had to use stealth, precision and planning to kill your targets. Blazing through with guns would only get you killed. You had no choice but to meticulously chart out your assassination, infiltrate enemy territory and carry out a beautiful, silent execution.

Hitman: Agent 47 review: Great video game turns into a stupid action spectacle

A still from Hitman: Agent 47

Hitman: Agent 47, the second attempt at turning the game series into a movie, goes 100 percent in the opposite direction of the game. This is a loud, blaring action movie without nuance or intelligence, where the protagonist carries out his kills in broad daylight. Everyone can see him and he overpowers hordes of enemies with Captain America-type fighting. Whoever decided to make this change needs to be assassinated by Agent 47.

The story has strands from the game in its plot. We’re introduced to the bald headed titular protagonist who is a genetically-engineered soldier with enhanced strength, speed and intelligence, designed to work for an agency with nefarious purposes. Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the man who created this program, realizes the consequences of his creation, develops cold feet and vanishes. Years later, his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) is searching for her dad, as is a rival agency called The Syndicate which plans to kidnap the scientist and learn the secret to creating more genetically enhanced assassins. Naturally, Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) foils everyone’s plans and a string of shootouts ensue.

Much like in a video game, story and character development take a back seat in this film, and bad acting takes center stage. Even Zachary Quinto hams to the hilt as the clichéd good guy who turns out to be a bad guy. With those technicalities out of the way, you’re left with action sequences to satisfy you, and Hitman Agent 47 does deliver in part. The violence is fun enough to keep you entertained, as long as you don’t expect much. A chopper smashes into a building, a van smashes into a bunch of soldiers, sniper rifles shoot like machine guns – it’s barmy stuff, full of CGI. As long as people are shooting at each other, it’s all silly fun.

But there’s no escaping the fact that this is a generic action movie repackaged into the Hitman brand to make money. This becomes obvious when you realize the only common element between this movie and the Hitman games is Agent 47’s black suit and red tie. Even the silver ballers he carries don’t have the signature silencers – indicating everyone in the movie forgot to render some attention to detail.

Shaving the hero bald isn’t nearly enough for a good Hitman movie. Even the 2008 Hitman film at least had a few visual elements that did justice to the games, and also, the lead was far more interesting. Here, Friend just doesn’t look like a cold-blooded assassin – he looks like an NPC from a video game cutscene. The original choice was Paul Walker, but given this film’s weak direction, the actor would probably not have improved the quality of the film.

In hindsight, Hitman is a video game property that seems cinematic because it borrows from other movies. However, a movie based on a game that is based on movies is hardly a recipe for good filmmaking. The curse of the video game based movies continues. It’s now up to Duncan Jones’ Warcraft and Michael Fassbender’s Assassin’s Creed to reverse this curse.

Updated Date: Sep 07, 2015 11:28:35 IST

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