Monday, August 24, 2015

Hitman: Agent 47 review

    I'll be honest, I didn't go into this movie expecting much. I'm not a big fan of the Hitman franchise because I've always been a story-orientated player and the idea of playing a seemingly static character like 47 never appealed to me. Since seeing this movie, I've done some research and found out my initial opinion of the franchise was wrong and I should probably give the games a chance.

    Hitman: Agent 47 opens with an over-long introduction which explains that a Doctor Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds) created a line of designer babies called "Agents" who were all stamped with a bar code on the back of their heads. Litvenko disappeared soon after finishing his creations, scuttling any chance of continuing the project. Since that time, a corporation called Syndicate International has been pursuing him across the globe in hopes of forcing him to share the secrets of how he made his super-agents.

Who do you trust? The handsome stranger or the unstoppable killing machine? Look at the movie title and guess.
    Entering into this plot is Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware), Litvenko's daughter, living off the grid and searching for her father. She is close to finding him so she can discover why she possesses superhuman perception and reflexes. The Syndicate sends an agent to find her and it becomes questionable whether 47 (Rupert Friend) is there to stop them or eliminate her. In the end, our anti-hero and her team up for a time to find Litvenko and keep him from the Syndicate's hands.

    This is a silly, fun movie.

    I think the problem is a lot of reviewers don't realize this is attempting to faithfully recreate the over-the-top atmosphere of the video game. Agent 47 puts on a disguise and, immediately, no one can recognize him (admittedly, a Marine and an airline pilot are easier to believe than others). Agent 47 deals with dozens of opponents through stealth but, the moment he's detected, whips out a pair of guns to go John Woo on everyone. 47 disposes of his enemies' with elaborate, almost comically violent, traps that reduce his enemies to bloody smears.

    There's even a frigging cyborg.

Rupert Friend is extremely good at being 47.
    Again, after I've done my research, exactly like in the video game. Well, the cyborg part is new but I'm willing to cut them some slack. Because cyborg. Characters talk with serious portentousness about free-will, genetic destiny, and the horrors of war before slaughtering people with a sharpened screwdriver. If people can't accept that, then that's their problem.

    Rupert Friend does an excellent job as Agent 47, capturing a man who is stoic and seemingly emotionless but also a liar. One of the cool elements of the movie is you can never tell if 47 is genuinely opening up to Katia about his feelings or whether he's just trying to manipulate her. Given he's contrasted, directly, against John Smith (Zachary Quinto) who does the exact same thing, it leaves the viewer with an interesting conundrum as to whether anything they're seeing from them is true. This is a cunning and cerebral 47 who knows exactly what he needs to do in order to get his target.

Agent 47 will never be replaced but Katia does a decent job as his partner.
    I'm also appreciative of Hannah Price's Katia as whether or not she's necessary to serve as the audience surrogate for Agent 47 is debatable, she certainly is entertaining while she's on screen. There's a few moments when she's forced to act like an idiot but, for the most part, I believed her transition from paranoid recluse to one of the most terrifying assassins in the world. I also understood the movie was being quite clever with her attempts to reach 47 on an emotional level having ambiguous results.

    Zachary Quinto's John Smith, by contrast, is a character which is just too fun. For the start of the movie, he does his very best to pretend to be Kyle Reese to Katia's Sarah Connor. He says 47 is there to kill her and he's the only person who can protect her. Watching the fights between him and 47 is always entertaining, especially when you realize he has a reason for being confident he can take a genetically-engineered super-soldier.

Send in all of the mooks! He can't kill them all. Right?
    The action scenes are, of course, the only reason anyone should go see this movie and they don't disappoint. They're silly, awesome, fun, and bloody. Agent 47 can do the John Woo guns akimbo thing with the best of them but he's also capable of taking down people with piano wire or shoving them into plane engines. None of them make a damn bit of sense in the real world but, honestly, who cares? This isn't the real world. This is the world where the Syndicate and ICA are dueling over a cloning project's future despite having cyborg super-soldiers at their beck and call.

    I'm not a believer that big, dumb action movies are automatically forgiven for being dumb. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a big, intelligent action movie for instance. However, I do think Hitman is a big, silly action movie, which is something else entirely. It also benefits from a re-watch, yes I saw it twice, because 47's motivations are consistent throughout the movie but hidden from the viewer. I would very much be willing to watch another installment of this franchise with the same cast and hope it does well at the box office.

    In conclusion, go see this movie. It's trashy good fun.


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