Magazine article Variety

Hitman: Agent 47

Magazine article Variety

Hitman: Agent 47

Article excerpt

FILM REVIEW

Hitman: Agent 47

DIRECTOR: Aleksander Bach

STARRING: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto

During a rare moment of quiet amid the glasssmashing, brain-bashing mayhem of "Hitman: Agent 47," a character offers the wise observation that we are all a bit more complicated than our internal circuitry might suggest. Applying this logic to the movie itself, it's fair to conclude that while Aleksander Bach's directing debut is indeed the junky, incoherent shoot-'em-up we feared it might be, to dismiss it as just another late-August studio craptacular doesn't quite do it justice. But what to call it, exactly? The 47th best action film of 2015? A feature-length Audi commercial, or a promo reel for the Singapore Tourism Board? The most unnecessary artistic contribution ever made by someone named Bach? Fox is surely hoping that "surprise box office hit" might be a plausible alternative, though the best one will likely be able to say on that front is that where disastrous franchise relaunches are concerned, it's no "Fantastic Four."

Indeed, many of those who pay to see "Hitman: Agent 47" will have no idea that it's a reboot of "Hitman" (2007), the forgettable EuropaCorp-produced first film adapted from the 10 Interactive videogame about a chrome-domed, genetically engineered contract killer. Ruthlessly precise in his targeting and virtually invincible, Agent 47 was played by Timothy Olyphant in the first movie and is embodied here by the steely-gazed Rupert Friend ("Homeland"), coolly donning the character's familiar black suit, white shirt and red necktie. He also sports a back-of-the-head barcode tattoo that serves as a continual visual reminder that 47 was cooked up in a government laboratory back in the 1960s, and that he is a cold-blooded killer devoid of such ordinary human qualities as fear, compassion and love.

In the new film, however, 47's mission is not to preserve and uphold his murderous order, but rather to destroy it, or at least keep it from being permanently reinstated. To do that, he must head to Berlin and track down Katia (Hannah Ware, "Betrayal"), a guarded young woman who's spent her entire life looking over her shoulder, and not without reason. As is revealed soon enough, Katia possesses both a mysterious ability to foresee the immediate future and a mysterious connection with Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the scientist who first devised the Agent program. Also in the mix is John Smith (Zachary Quinto), a highly skilled fighter who early on assumes the role of Katia's protector, giving her fair warning about exactly what kind of danger she's up against. Together they will reinforce the wellknown cinematic truth (also evident in the upcoming Owen Wilson thriller "No Escape") that if you're looking for a place to hide, you should really steer clear of your nearest U.S. embassy, where Agent 47 stages an audacious, foolhardy assault on Katia, John and the laws of probability.

Eventually the characters make their way to Singapore to take down a sinister group known as the Syndicate Organization (not to be confused, presumably, with the Syndicate in "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation") that wants to kick the Agent program into high gear, an act that would have disastrous consequences for humanity. But never mind all that. Insofar as "Hitman: Agent 47" is about anything, really, it's about the pleasures of being on location - from the gratuitous image of Ware taking a dip in a fivestar-hotel swimming pool to the sight of Singapore's staggering Gardens by the Bay, where we're briefly allowed to stop and smell the orchids right before an impromptu shootout. …

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