For those of us who love video games and movies, there is a hope that one day a game will be adapted into a movie worthy of the title. Things started off pretty rough for anyone with those dreams following the Super Mario Bros. and Streetfighter abominations, and too be honest, it’s rarely gotten better. The only ones to come close are the original Silent Hill movie as well as Paul WS Anderson’s watchable Mortal Kombat flick and his Resident Evil franchise that can charitably be labeled as hit-and-miss. Other than that, the adaptations have been pretty rough. Generally speaking, they are rushed productions run by disinterested filmmakers and produced only because the title is marketable. Rather than introducing popular properties and characters to non-gamers, they only tend to unfairly reinforce stereotypes about the mindless and tediously violent clichéd dismissals of gaming. Hitman: Agent 47 is the second attempt to get a Hitman movie off the ground, and somehow, it’s even worse than the horrendous 2007 failure. So the trend of craptacular videogame movies continues.
Things kick off with an opening credit sequence that attempts to cram so much unnecessary backstory into a few measly minutes of screentime that viewers can be forgiven for checking out immediately. So, essentially, Rupert Friend plays the bald and red-tied assassin, Agent 47, whose organization of brainwashing and bioengineering assassin makers have been disbanded. However, a new company is starting to crank out emotionless and bio-enhanced killing machines and Agent 47 has kind of maybe been assigned to bring it down, or something? It’s hard to say. The story is that muddled. The other lead character is Hannah Ware’s possible target in Friend’s sights who can’t remember her childhood (which couldn’t possibly be linked to the companies who manufacture test tube assassins, right?). Then there’s also a mysterious character played by Zachary “that new Spok” Quinto who is also tracking down Ware. She can’t quite decide which man to trust, though the audience should figure things out pretty quickly given this movie’s title.
So, there is indeed a plot to this movie. Not that it seems to matter much or that the screenwriters Skip Woods (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Michael Finch (Predators) put much effort into crafting it. They’ve taken a couple vague references to the game and slapped them to the most generic action movie plot they could come up with, hoping that somewhere along the line a movie would emerge. It’s hard to care about any of the characters, since they have no personality, and it’s difficult to get wrapped up in the story, since it doesn’t make much sense. The actors certainly don’t seem very invested, taking advantage of the fact that they are all playing characters incapable of emotion to deliver the most dull and lifeless line readings imaginable. It really is painful to sit through at times, almost like watching a collection of prisoners spit out the dialogue required to serve their sentence in a cinematic prison.
The only time that the movie gets even remotely lively is during the action sequences. Don’t expect those to feel like the game though. Aside from a tacked-on sequence in which 47 teaches Ware how to sneak around security cameras, there is no stealth or silence. Nope, long-time commercial director and first-time filmmaker Aleksander Bach dedicates all of his energy to making things blow up and fetishizing gunfire. The man has no real sense of how to pace a story or work with actors, but he knows how to make a gun look pretty while it’s making a head explode, so he focuses all of his efforts there. To be fair, the action sequences are fine, sometimes even okay, but they are nothing special; just a bunch of slo-mo and pyro combined in sequences that at least look exciting, even though it’s impossible to care about why they are happening.
It’s hard to say whether or not Hitman: Agent 47 is indeed the worst videogame movie ever made, if only because the competition is so steep. Don’t get me wrong, this flick is a big boring disaster, but maybe not quite as unforgivably horrendous as such failures as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation or Max Payne. It does come awfully close though, probably even managing to be worse than the disastrous 2007 adaptation. In the end, you’re better off just replaying some of the old Hitman games again if you’re hungering for a revival of that franchise. The movie doesn’t add a damn thing. There is a chance that one day we will be treated to a worthwhile videogame movie, but we’ll have to wait at least one more year for someone to take the right material seriously. Or maybe it’ll be a few more decades until the day that studio executives are young enough to be nostalgic for the games they were raised on. One day it will happen. It’s just sure as fuck not happening today, because at the moment, we’re stuck with Hitman: Agent 47.