REVIEW: Hitman: Agent 47

There’s not much information I can provide as background for my review of Hitman: Agent 47. I know it’s based on a videogame, which I assume was popular enough to warrant not only this movie, but also a 2007 version. However, I don’t know if the new one is a sequel, a reboot or a remake. I don’t remember much about Hitman (2007), but I must not have liked it very much because I gave it three out of ten stars on IMDb. That means I have only my experience watching the movie on which to judge it. This fact is probably going to serve the movie well.

Crime thrillers like Hitman: Agent 47 are not normally my type of movie, but this one is entertaining enough. It offers some decent action sequences, including a really nifty one where the bad guys attempt to stop Agent 47’s red Audi as it speeds through downtown Shanghai by harpooning it with steel cables from various rooftop angles. Most of the hand-to-hand combat is filmed close-up, which I prefer because the stunt men replacing the actors are noticeably distracting in the one or two scenes shot from wider angles.

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However, a couple scenes are a little too violent for me. The movie has a fondness for depicting the bone-crunching details of men falling over railings and landing on things that bend their bodies in impossible ways. Go figure, that bothered me, but bloody gunshots to the head did not. Again, since I don’t frequent this genre of movie, I don’t know how the action compares to other movies like it. I don’t know that there’s a standout style that’s used in the action sequences or a particular scene that’s unique or outstanding.

While the action speeds the movie along, the story tends to slow it down. I was confused before the opening credits finished running. The narration provided a lot of backstory in very little time, so I decided the story didn’t really matter as long as I understood it was basically good guys vs. bad guys. As long as I knew which was which… oops, then I got confused again. There were some twists and turns with that plot element that I didn’t quite follow. I’m still not sure who was good or bad; I just know who I wanted to ultimately win.

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Although genetically enhanced to be a bad guy, Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is really just a pawn between two groups, one that wants to engineer more of him and one that wants to end the program that designed him (and at least 46 other agents). The person who could make it swing either way is Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the scientist who holds all the secrets in his mind. And the key to locating Litvenko is a mysterious woman named Katia (Hannah Ware) who has her own reasons for finding him. It all results in an international chase with glorious scenery, especially during the climax in Shanghai.

Hitman: Agent 47 was directed by first-timer Aleksander Bach and written by Skip Woods (Swordfish, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Michael Finch (Predators, The November Man). Woods also wrote Hitman (2007), so perhaps that’s our connection between the two movies. I enjoyed this one at least three stars more on IMDb than the first one, so let’s call it an “upgrade.” The person who saw it with me liked it a lot, claiming even more so than a James Bond movie. That sounds a little crazy, but if you’re a fan of the genre, consider that as a fair endorsement and check it out for yourself.

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