Wasn’t Hitman just a post-Matrix drip anyways? Like, are teenagers still enraptured by jet-black attire, cyber-punk imagery, and slow-mo gunplay? Given the advent (and profitability) of first person shooters, probably, but still. Here we are with a reboot, or remake, or some such thing coming from Fox’s 2007 Hitman, a glorified shoot ‘em up, based on a digitized shoot ‘em up, about a cue-balled killer with a barcode on the back of his head. What is this Hitman’s (Rupert Friend) motivation? To shoot ‘em up. Pew pew, headshots, R-rating, game over.
However, to Hitman: Agent 47’s credit, once you get past the jittery exposition, the game tutorials, if you will, the thing has a certain dummy game logic amusement to it. It’s all in the tone, the Euro-style, and the B-movie zeal. I’m saying that at some point the film stops giving a shit and that’s when the fun, the littlest amounts of it, happen.
So about this Hitman. He is the genetic result of a Mengele-esque eugenics program where kids were bred to be super soldiers. Once again, the movies fetishize outlandish science fiction ideas for military purposes and head-scratching profits (see: Jurassic World attack raptors). The Hitman is a rogue, silent creature. His name? Just Agent 47. He brags of his efficiency with monotone calm. Affectless, he carries himself with all the charisma of a faceless, hairless mannequin. The most exciting thing about Agent 47? He loves his wool jacket. He says so. Wow. Now that’s commitment to stoicism right there. Minimalist character development, maximum kill shots.
A contract eventually comes up where the Hitman must chase after an elusive young woman (Hannah Ware), who may hold the key to Hitman’s experimental origins. And from there, it’s a series of action scenes, double crosses, and over-filtered montages; all resembling some sort of niche post-Luc Besson aesthetic.
Some of Agent 47’s scenes are incredibly clumsy or confusing. That’s about the first hour. We see a train station brawl between Agent 47 and another operative named John Smith (Zachary Quinto, acting with heavy breathing), assembled with cross-cutting that actually confuses the space and reality of the situation. Formally, the film relies on arty second unit shots as a means to falsify a style, and everything’s blended something awful. As for the script, cliché upon cliché is rolled out. Whether it’s the low-angle cool kill shots, background explosions, or frequent use of what’s becoming known as the “crazy obsession wall” (this one’s portable, though…), you know all these things too well.
There’s Apple pale aesthetics for the villain conglomerate, the Syndicate. Neither their name nor their fortress-like offices hint at wrong-doing to the public. Let’s not even get in to leaps of logic, like the apparent ability to hit 120 mph in an Audi while driving in a small garage, or continuity errors, like rapid-healing/disappearing scars. Agent 47 may be some sort of pro, but goodness does his movie miss a ton of little marks.
That last act, though, is so beyond the point of comprehension that Agent 47 wins you over with its thrifty, silly grandeur. The back-end loads on better action scenes (car chases, concrete staging and locales), and a sly bit of acknowledgement that the whole film, the entire premise if you will, was a bit of a joke. If you’re gonna go out, go guns-a-blazing and helicopters-a-crashing, Agent 47 seems to think. When the hard-hearted killer man lets out a smirk in a nonsensical car chase, that’s when you can stop worrying and love the gun. Clones and spider-senses and titanium skin, heh, this movie’s so stupid.
It’s definitely too little too late. Agent 47 needn’t be seen, but on a quiet, lazy afternoon, you might just catch the last half hour of this on FX, and you’ll think, Well that was nutty as all get out, what was that? It was Hitman: Agent 47, and you just saw the best, and most recommendable part.