Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

An assassin teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

Hitman: Agent 47
Directed by Aleksander Bach
Starring Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto

This could have been very, very bad. As the first half of last night’s double bill at my local multi-screen cinema chain, I didn’t really go into this with either enthusiasm or anticipation. Nor did the other twelve people sitting in the theatre with me, judging by the amount of chitter-chatter and general crisp-packet-scrunching that accompanied the first ten or so minutes while people settled in to accept the fate that ‘they were here now, so might as well make the best of it.’

And if I’m honest, I really wouldn’t have bothered normally. It’s been a while since I had actually been out to watch a movie instead of just picking stuff that has either been sent to me or I have been linked to online, but after two weeks of some very studious Skyrim adventuring, my eldest son thought it was best to get me out of the flat, so invited all of his friends round for an evening of general debauchery. So what’s a middle-aged single man supposed to do with few friends and short notice, but lurk in a darkened room for a few hours in the company of strangers with vaguely similar interests.

Having never been moved to play the video game on which this film is apparently based, I was hoping that not only would my general ambivalence not prove too much of an obstacle, but I was also hoping for some kind of ‘previously on Hitman’ prologue to give me a heads up on just what the bloody hell was going on, why he was bald and, more specifically, he had a barcode on the back of his head. I still didn’t know by half way in whether I was supposed to be rooting for the titular, well turned out, efficient lunatic or the poor, terrified woman he was apparently going to fill with a riddle of bullets. Then when Doctor Spock turned up, I was even more confused.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still entertained, mightily so, in fact. The action is constant, unrelenting and whilst it may lack a little finesse in the acting and speaking bits, Bach’s interpretation of a simple, mostly plot-free videogame experience was very well rendered in reality. The visual flair was very impressive and unmissable, with crisp, clean lines just aching to have blood and guts spattered all over it with gay abandon, which for those of a more visceral bent, will provide enough value for money.

Plot and script lite, this is (I’m informed) quite an honourable addition to the canon but is still accessible to those with little or no knowledge of the story so far, even if you do have to concentrate early on to get your bearings. When you do, you can happily just pay attention to the bangs and whistles without worrying too much about anything else, as honestly, there isn’t much else to it. The choreography in the fight scenes is watchable and you may even wince on a couple of occasions, but those hoping for something as slick as say, John Wick, or (dare I say it) The Raid, are going to be disappointed. It’s okay, sure, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If anything, this reminded me maybe a little too much of Paul Anderson’s Resident Evil output. Slick direction and editing make this a visual treat often, but there is little beneath the veneer to impress, so don’t expect much more.

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