Do a Shot: every time 47 or Katia says “trust me.”
Take a Drink: for every “evil corporation” cliche.
Do a Shot: if you can spot the plot beats coming from a mile away.
Take a Drink: for every new way someone is killed.
Take a Drink: every time Agent 47 changes his costume.
By: Hawk Ripjaw (Four Beers) –
Hitman: Agent 47 opens with a very brief description of an organization that has developed a number of genetically superior clone assassins. And then the organization is shut down, but the existing clones are still in operation. Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) has been tasked with finding the creator of the program and killing him, as well as hunting his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) down. Meanwhile, the evil Syndicate is also seeking the creator so they can create their own army, and the CIA’s John Smith (Zachary Quinto) is trying to protect Katia. Does that plot sound boring? Because it is.
I’m going to warn you right now: this movie does a lot of shit wrong. But fair is fair, so let’s start with what this movie does right. First-timer Aleksander Bach brings a slick aesthetic to the movie, crafting a visually attractive picture, helped along with charismatic production design that keeps things moderately engaging as the dead-on-arrival script struggles to do the same.
As far as the action, there’s plenty of it, and it’s mostly pretty good. One of the main “saving graces” of the movie—a term that I use not to imply that the movie is good, but just a few steps above shitty—is the action. There is an undeniable “cool” factor to the action, and 47 is an unconditional badass. He is an absolute killing machine and there is rarely a single second where he doesn’t hold all of the cards. David Leitch, who co-directed John Wick, assisted Bach on the action sequences here, and it shows.
There is no romantic subplot at all here. Unlike the original, Katia doesn’t even try to bang 47. In fact, roughly ten minutes away from the end of the movie she promises 47 that she’s going to kill him. Commendable.
The original Hitman was stupidly average, sprinkling modestly exciting action sequences throughout a script that was a glaringly obvious ripoff of The Bourne Idenitity, about a killer whose own organization turns against him, forcing him to go on the run whilst protecting a random woman. The infamous Skip Woods, who would go on to write the even-more-shitty X-Men Origins: Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard, was responsible for Hitman. Fox, when developing a sequel, decided that they needed to really look around and find someone who would to the series justice. Someone who would craft a badass character with a compelling script that didn’t fall victim to those tired assassin tropes and—what? They hired Skip Woods again? Well, all right.
Yep. Skip Woods, for some batshit reason, has been called back to write the script again. And while his plot this time around is better than 2007’s original, the dialogue suffers. Oh, LORD, is the dialogue bad. From the running “joke” of 47 and Katia saying “trust me” to each other during dire straits, to this epic exchange:
John: “I’m a huge fan of your work, 47. You’re a legend.”
47: “I thought you had to be dead to be a legend.”
John: “Oh, you are. You just don’t know it yet.”
47: “Does it feel good to be a dead man?”
WHAT THE FUCK?!? You could try listing off the number of times this has occurred in action movies and you’d run out of fingers and toes. Nearly every line of dialogue and new plot element is either boring or straight-up bad.
Close your eyes for a second. You are in charge of the budget for an R-rated action flick for 20th Century Fox. Fox is not confident that their upcoming superhero movie Fantastic 4 is going to do well, so they’re hounding you to keep Hitman: Agent 47 on the cheap. What do you do?
A: Try to reign in the movie’s special effects and budget, opting for practical effects
B: I WANT CHEAP EFFECTS AND I DON’T GIVE A FUCK HOW BAD THEY LOOK!
If you answered “B” then congrats! You have successfully inhabited the mindset of a 20th Century Fox budget manager! A lot of movies have some dodgy CGI in the trailer, and clean it up and make it look nice for the final release. Other movies, like this one, don’t change a damn thing and still look several years old. Watch this:
By now, you should know that I love dumb movies. These movies need to either be self-aware stupid and have a lot of fun with their absurdity, or need to be so terrible it’s impossible not to laugh at them. This movie is neither: it’s very dumb but has no idea, with very little sense of fun. It thinks it’s the most badass thing ever created and keeps a straight face for almost the entire run. John Smith has something called subdermal body armor, which is a synthetic armor injected under the skin to protect from gunfire. You’d think they could have a little bit of fun with that, but they don’t. This is a movie about a damn clone assassin with a barcode on his head and it’s all treated with a frustrating dourness. I know the video games were dramatic and dark, but you can still have that tone and make it fun.
Hitman: Agent 47 is very dumb, and often not in a fun way. At the same time, there are legitimate moments of excitement, as well as a number of clever call-outs to the source material that fans will like. I strongly disliked it when watching it, mostly because it screeches to a halt when fists and bullets aren’t flying. Thinking back, maybe it wasn’t that bad; it was simply mediocre. And sometimes, mediocre might be worse.