‘Hitman: Agent 47’ movie review: Rupert Friend is the video game assassin


It’s so simplistic, yet so incomprehensible: the majority of Hitman: Agent 47 follows the titular character and a female target through a number of chases and gunfights, and yet I was frequently lost as to the motivations for any of these action scenes to occur.

That’s probably not a bad thing. This Hitman movie never annoyed or offended me, emotions I might have felt had I understood the film better. Story is not the focus here, and perhaps rightfully, the brief moments of exposition in-between the shootouts are perfunctory bits that only seem to move to story forward.

Note: potential spoilers in the graphs below. Potential, as I’m not sure I understood the film well enough to spoil it.

A pre-credits introduction seems to set everything up: the mysterious Hitman formula, used to create-super agent clones known as Hitmen, is in danger of being stolen by the mysterious organization Syndicate International.

They’ve managed to track down the daughter of the scientist who created the formula, who is, the film tells us, the key to everything. Why she’s the key, I don’t know; she doesn’t know where her father is, either.

So our friendly neighborhood Hitman, the 47th clone in a long and distinguished line of cold-blooded assassins, is sent to either protect the girl or maybe kill her, I dunno. You’d think a detail like that might matter, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve never played the video games this series is based on, nor do I remember a thing from the 2008 film, despite having a written account of having seen it. So I’m wondering: are there 46 other clones out there assassinating targets around the world? Are all the previous clones dead? In which case, really, how effective could they have been. 

Anyway, our Hitman hooks up with the target girl in order to track down her father, for some reason, and… hey waitaminute: I just saw this exact same plot being used last week in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Small world, eh?

A bunch of shootouts and car chases and bloodshed ensue. And you know what? The action scenes are mostly competent (despite some really sketchy editing every now and then) and I didn’t mind seeing waves of faceless bad guys getting sucked into jet engines or having their heads crushed in factory machines or getting stabbed or shot or blown up real good.

This movie is mostly terrible, and makes little sense, and like the earlier film is unlikely to please fans of the video game series, which focused on stealth kills as opposed to the standard one man vs. an army action sequences here.

Still, I found it surprisingly tolerable. 

Oh yeah, there are actors and performances in here too: Rupert Friend, who played Peter Quinn on TV’s Homeland, is the nameless titular character, a silent-but-deadly killing machine. And you know what? Quinn is more of a badass. Friend seems to know what kind of material this is, and his role is filled with goofy deadpan one liners.

Hannah Ware is Katia, the girl everyone is after for some reason, and Ciarán Hinds is her father, who everyone is also after. For reasons I’m still not entirely clear on. Thomas Kretschmann is the head of Syndicate International (would you trust a company with this name?) and Zachary Quinto is “John Smith,” a Syndicate henchman with bulletproof armor injected into his bloodstream. 

Quinto’s character seems to be far more deadly and efficient than Friend’s Agent 47, which leads one to wonder why the Syndicate is spending so much effort to crack the Hitman formula when they have this kind of ultimate weapon just sitting around.

But then, you’re expending too much effort trying to work out this movie. Check your brain at the door and you might have a good time here, though I suspect you already knew that when buying a ticket to a film called Hitman: Agent 47.

Hitman: Agent 47


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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