Hitman: Agent 47

Posted on August 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015

Maybe someday there will be a good movie based on a videogame. But there’s no evidence of that possibility in the tiresome “Hitman: Agent 47” based on the first-person shooter Hitman Trilogy. The game keeps the player’s interest through challenges involving dexterity and problem-solving.

The movie has striking images and competently staged fight scenes, but a movie needs some reason to care about what is going on, and that never happens. The one interesting twist in the storyline is revealed in the trailer, so if you’ve seen that, you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at your watch. Even by the low standards of the dog days of August, this one is a slog.

“Hitman: Agent 47” is another in a long series of films — and one of two this week — with the same theme. There’s a secret government program to create enhanced humans with better-than-human reflexes, sight, hearing, and survival skills. But other human qualities like emotion, fear, and remorse, have been eliminated. They are called Agents and they have numbered barcodes tattooed into their heads. This is explained by a droning narrator at the beginning, more likely to induce somnolence than dread. So, the program has been shut down, the only person who knows the secret formula has disappeared, and the head of an evil corporation called the Syndicate wants the scientist, he wants the formula, and he wants to create an army of Agents.

Meanwhile, Katia (Hannah Ware) is trying to find a man, and all she has is an out-of-focus photo. She is not making any progress and then a mysterious man named John Smith (Zachary Quinto) shows up for one of those “follow me if you want to live” moments. He says he will protect her from a man who is trying to kill her and help her solve the mystery. The man he promises to protect her from is Agent 47, played by Rupert Friend, with a shaved bullet head and razor-sharp cheekbones.

After that, it’s just a lot of bang bang in exotic locations and not-surprising surprises about who is what and who fights whom. When you have characters with superpowers, we have to have a thorough understanding of their abilities and vulnerabilities for any dramatic tension about the outcome of a fight. There is literally a shot of a staircase in this film that is more arresting than any of the blood-spurting injuries inflicted along the way. It’s basically a “Terminator” rip-off (as if “Terminator” sequels haven’t already provided us with enough of those) — emotionless killing machine pairs with human and takes on battalions. One of his superpowers apparently includes not mussing his clothes. His red tie stays neatly knotted and his crisp white shirt stays tucked in. He also sleeps sitting up. In the theater, checking my watch, I envied that superpower most of all.

Parents should know that this film includes extensive and very graphic and bloody peril and violence, shootouts, explosions, knives, chases, torture, many characters injured and killed, disturbing images, some strong language, medication, and a sad parental death.

Family discussion: Why does John say his name is Brian? Why doesn’t he get up the first time he is shot? Is it inhuman not to have remorse or sorrow?

If you like this, try: “Hanna,” “The Bourne Legacy,” and “Resident Evil”

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Action/Adventure Based on a video game

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