This reviewer is happy to admit he’s not much of a gamer – a recent potential Angry Birds addiction was nipped in the bud sharpish – and thus absolutely unqualified to comment on whether this latest Hitman movie (a reboot of a franchise kicked off in 2007) pays due reverence to the enduring stealth video game series. The film does, apparently, pay homage to the games here and there but, out of necessity, it has to do something rather different for a cinema-going audience. Unfortunately, all it’s really able to do is take bits of The Terminator (remorseless killing machine), The Matrix (stylish fight sequences) and James Bond (nice clothes and exotic locations) and hope they’ll be enough to paper over the cracks in a story which fatally fails to engage the audience’s interest and has to resort to extreme uber-violence and style-over-substance visuals.
Never trust a movie which info-dumps all over the opening credits; it’s a sure sign of a clumsy script content to take lazy short cuts. A bored voice-over tells of Dr Litvenko (Hinds) and his plans to create a breed of super-powered, super-intelligent assassins known as ‘Agents’ and the crisis of conscience which saw him abandon the project and run away, leaving behind his young daughter Katia. Years later ruthless rivals determined to replicate the technology are about to locate Litvenko but are intercepted by the implacable Agent 47 (Friend), who slaughters them all. Katia is befriended by the mysterious John Smith (Quinto) but it seems that his philanthropic nature isn’t quite what it seems and soon Katia finds herself on the run with Agent 47 and ending up in Singapore, chased by agents and soldiers of the Syndicate who will stop at nothing to get their hands on Litvenko and the secrets of the ‘Agent’ initiative.
As generic action movies go, Hitman isn’t bad but it’s utterly uninvolving and our interest is really only maintained by its tireless (and occasionally tiresome) action sequences. Gun battle follows fist fight follows car chase; the violence is graphic and bloody and so relentless it eventually becomes wearing. Friend (who replaced the late Paul Walker in the lead role) is tolerably bland as Agent 47 and Ware throws herself into the murky narrative with gusto. It looks brilliant, the action is beautifully-filmed (it really shows off its stunning locations) but by the end – despite a mid-credits sting which suggests/threatens a sequel – you’ll have had quite enough of the whole thing. It’s really more of a miss than a hit, man.
HITMAN: AGENT 47 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ALEKSANDER BACH / SCREENPLAY: SKIP WOODS, MICHAEL FINCH / STARRING: RUPERT FRIEND, HANNAH WARE, ZACHARY QUINTO, CIARÁN HINDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected Rating: 5 out of 10