The Baldy Returns (Hitman: Agent 47 review)
Hit-Man: Agent 47 is the second movie endeavour for the Hit-Man video-game franchise. This film starts fresh and doesn’t share continuity with the 2007 Xavier Gens movie starring the bald and bold Agent 47. Although the title would suggest otherwise, the steadfast Agent isn’t really even the focus of the movie. Instead, the film follows a woman called Katia whom the Agent seems to be after. She is rescued by a mysterious John Smith (Zachary Quinto) and finds out her father, a man she’s looked for her whole life, is the actual target of the Agent’s agenda. Or so it would seem. The film is filled with interesting plot twists and at least doesn’t lack ambition.
Now, I quite enjoyed the 2007 film version of Hit-Man and can already say from the get-go that I didn’t like this new take on the franchise as much. Regardless, there are many positive things about the film and over-all it left me satisfied.
My biggest gripe by far was a clear stylistic inconsistency in the cinematography. While there are a handful of really beautifully shot scenes in the movie, for the greater part it looks incredibly sterile and hokey. Worst of all, the action scenes are extremely messy and hard to follow. Even though some are pretty great (Agent 47 escaping the US embassy, the airplane hangar), the movie’s visuals don’t hold a candle to Gens’ stylistic approach which seamlessly fused stylistic cinematography with hard-cranked action-scenes. Instead, we have choppy scenery and blatantly obvious CGI doubles flying around like crash test dummies. However, this is the director’s debut film so maybe I should give him some slack.
The story takes a while to get going which I wouldn’t have minded if the film hadn’t spoon-fed exposition right from the start. The opening narration was really unnecessary given that all the same information is given later on by characters in the film. Once the story does get going, it’s filled with a lot of nice surprises about who Katia really is, what her relationship with Agent 47 is really about and what are Agent 47’s own motives in all of the film.
Rupert Friend gives a delightfully straight-forward performance. It definitely lacks the humanity of Timothy Olyphant’s portrayal of the same character, but Friend manages to give his Agent 47 his own sense of humour and, surprisingly, manages to differentiate himself nicely from Olyphant’s performance. Due to Agent 47 being a lot less prominent at the start, this makes him seem a bit distant as a character at first – but in the movie’s latter half, Friend really shines.
Same goes for Hannah Ware who is initially quite unlikable at the start and, only once Agent 47 reveals her the truth, does her character really get to shine. Once again, I don’t think Friend and Ware’s on-screen chemistry was as pleasant as that of Olyphant and Bond-girl Olga Kurylenko’s violent, semi-steamy/semi-awkward but ultimately heart-warming chemistry – but the comparison is a bit unfair considering how different these character’s relationships are (Spoiler: With Kyralenko being a pseudo-romantic interest to Agent 47 and Katia being more of a quarrelling sibling).
Zachary Quinto is also quite good for the movie’s first half but becomes a bit unimportant in the latter half of the film. However, every character gives a strong performance which I was happy about. Previous Video-Game Movie alumni for this movie include a brief but very fine cameo from Jürgen Prochnow (Wing Commander, House of the Dead) and a more extensive performance from Thomas Kretschmann, who has notably improved upon his villanous performance in Resident Evil: Apocalypse.
The film has a good story, some fine action moments and a surprisingly deep story. However, it’s execution is its biggest weakness and a few cringe-worthy action scenes (the fist fights & the car on cables) really made the film feel more dragged out than it really needed to. The finale has some nice closure although a back-door is yet again left swinging open for a sequel. There’s a lot to like with this film, I just wish it would have had a bit more stylistic clarity.
Rating: 3½ out of 5
- +1 The Embassy Sequence
- +½ Rupert Friend as Agent 47 (once he’s the focus of the movie)
- +½ Katia & Agent 47’s chemistry
- +½ The airplane hangar scene
- +½ Marco Beltrami’s score
- +½ The story
- -½ The opening narration
- -1 Most of the action-scenes