It says volumes about this movie that the praise I can give it is, it’s not as bad as you’d expect. Actually, I think it might edge a toe toward good territory, depending on the criteria you’re using to judge if something is good or not. Action sequences, explosions, a white dude with a decent jaw line wearing a black Italian wool coat and a red silk tie and shooting people? Okay.
Though taken another way, in the realm of video game movies it’s pretty fan-fucking-tastic, helped by the fact that it wasn’t directed by Uwe Boll.
Quick synopsis: 47 is an agent blah blah genetic engineering blah blah perfect assassin blah blah no emotions, designed by a guy named Litvenko (whom I kept misnaming “Vanko” in my notes because that’s how everyone said it, I swear) who then promptly disappeared because he realized designing perfect human killbots without emotions was probably a bad idea. Katia is Litvenko’s daughter and is very good at running away and hiding, and weirdly seems unsure if Litvenko is her dad or not through the first bit of the movie. John Smith (oh THAT’S creative), who is played by Sylar shows up to ostensibly rescue Katia from 47, but actually, he also wants Litvenko the human Cheshire cat who can disappear instantly. Sylar and 47 duke it out in a way that should launch 1000 pornographic fanfics if there’s any justice in the universe, 47 kidnaps Katia, and then the really interesting part of the movie starts. Because 47 reveals that Katia is an engineered super badass like him (43 iterations better than him as a matter of fact). So of course they join forces. Bullets fly and things blow up.
There are actually some things I really, really liked in this movie, enough that I’d actually be willing to watch a sequel as long as it still had 47 (Rupert Friend) and Katia (Hannah Ware) in it. The relationship between the two characters is excellent; even before the big reveal that was already spoiled by the second trailer, they were basically sniping at each other like siblings. It was a different direction than you normally see in “action dude saves woman” movies, and I loved it. See the following conversation:
Katia: What do they want?
47: More of me.
Katia: Why would anyone want more of you?
The older brother/younger sister dynamic just speaks to me on a spiritual level, okay?
I also generally liked the action sequences. They weren’t as flashy as you get in a lot of action movies, and that was all right. They actually did a good job of speaking to character, which often gets lost in the attempt to make things splashy and justify effects budgets. 47 always came across as efficient, no frills, clinical. John Smith always had his giant, insecurity-fueled hateboner for 47 on full display. So that? I appreciated.
And praise be, a movie that kept things short and to the point. 96 minutes, in, out, done. They didn’t have enough there to justify a longer running time, and they didn’t try. So even during the occasionally cringe-worthy expository sections, the movie still moved along at a brisk enough pace that I never found it boring.
On the bad side, there were some definite script-generated problems in there. Some of the bridge scenes between plot points, such as Sylar trying to convince Katia to trust him and help him find her dad, were just awful. Wooden, stilted, nonsensical. There were also scenes that felt weirdly like relics (related to scenes that have since been changed entirely or deleted) scattered around. For example? Katia’s topless swimming scene and the later shower scene. Maybe it was just supposed to be fanservice for the presumed male-dominated audience. But it felt like it was supposed to be setup for some kind of romantic interlude, which was plainly not going to happen thank you. The plot was a bit overcomplicated for what it needed to be (two layers of badguys?) with the “real” villain not introduced until very late, though apparently that’s an inherited video game problem.
Also, I don’t know what kind of drugs they whacked Ciarán Hinds on every time before they shoved him in front of the camera, but goddamn. I could not even understand half the words he gummed out of his mouth.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that this movie doesn’t come close to passing the Bechdel-Wallace test. (It does, however, pass the sexy lamp test! Surprise!) And if you trust the setting, apparently Singapore is inhabited by a giant population of white men in suits and five Singaporean flight attendants. Also, all the cars appear to be made of brightly-colored plastic.
Hitman: Agent 47 gets a solid Meh+ from me. It’s not a bad way to spend 96 minutes if you want to just turn off your brain while you stuff the carbohydrate of your choice into your food hole. And I’m a sucker for Italian wool.