HITMAN: AGENT 47 (3 out of 10) Directed by Aleksander Bach, Written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch, Starring Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds, Thomas Kretschmann, Angelababy, Dan Bakkedahl. Rated R for "sequences of strong violence, and some language." 96 minutes. In wide release August 21, 2015.
Movies based on video games are not known for being especially good. And this thinly-veiled attempt to cash in on the popularity of the "Hitman" video game franchise doesn't break that streak, instead reaching new lows of banality. If it's possible, it's even worse than its predecessor, 2007's "Hitman," which previously set a pretty low bar for mindless video-game-inspired action violence.
Speaking of that film, or the video games, you needn't have seen it or played any of them to understand this film, thanks to an opening voice over that explains the universe. That is, if there is something to understand here.
Our story centers around Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), a trained assassin genetically engineered and raised to kill from birth, getting his "name" from the last two numbers of the barcode tattooed on his neck. The mastermind of the Agent program, Dr. Litvenko, has hidden himself away, taking the secrets of genetic and mental manipulation with him. And it seems the key to finding him has turned up in the person of a young woman, Katia Van Dees (Hannah Winn), who is also searching for Dr. Litvenko for personal reasons she does not fully understand.
Agent 47 is deployed, as is a counter agent, code named John Smith (Zachary Quinto) and the two face off against one another in a game of international cat and mouse as bullets fly and a body count piles up. If only it were actually as interesting as that description makes it sound.
The film is weighed down by clunky exposition and a labyrinthine, ponderous plot that is even dumber than it is predictable. How predictable is it? Well, almost 15 years ago, South Park did an episode called "Towelie" where the boys try to get back their stolen video game system while the military and a giant multinational corporation square off to try to recover a lost genetically engineered "smart towel." The plot plays out, almost beat for beat, as that episode does.
That's right. The plot plays out, literally, like a parody of bad movie plots from 14 years ago.
And, just like that episode, I end up feeling like the kids as they repeatedly tell the people spouting off exposition, "Don't care. Don't care. Don't care." and "Goddammit, can we PLEASE just get back to playing our video games, PLEASE?!?"
On the way, there is a little bit of fun. Some of the car chases are all right, and so are a few of the fight sequences. A bit with a Wilhelm scream and an industrial shredder was satisfying and interesting, but ultimately not enough to save a mostly boring action flick.
At least it's incredibly short. But even with only a 96 minute runtime, you'd have more fun playing one of Hitman video games for 90 minutes than watching this movie. That is the kiss of death of any video game movie.
This sequel got made because the last Hitman film inexplicably made over $100 million worldwide. Don't invite another terrible sequel. Don't give them your dollars, or else Agent 47 will have to come back to theaters again to inflict mental death on anyone who watches.
3 out of 10