Raise your hand if you thought Hitman: Agent 47 was a sequel to the 2007 film of (almost) the same name. Nope, this is actually a remake of the video-game adaptation about a cyborg assassin, which in this case is a trivial distinction.
In following its predecessor, it’s a slick high-tech thriller that essentially trades one incoherent mess of car chases, shootouts, and fight sequences for another. But like its title character, the film is completely devoid of emotion.
Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is part of a genetically engineered race of robotic killing machines with superior physical and intellectual attributes. The program that created him has been discontinued, although a corporation hopes to re-launch it with ulterior motives. That’s why 47 is trying to protect the strong-willed daughter (Hannah Ware) of a terminally ill scientist who holds the secret to his past. That leads to shifting loyalties and a globetrotting cat-and-mouse game involving a mysterious man (Zachary Quinto) whose talk and actions seem to conflict.
It shouldn’t come as much surprise that spectacle trumps substance, since this is a video-game retread, after all. However, there needs to be a sufficient story to bridge the gaps between the stylish action sequences — staged with impressive array of weaponry in crowded city streets, subway stations, and parking garages — especially when your lead character employs a constant stone-faced monotone. It might not be his fault, but Friend (The Young Victoria) isn’t so much a leading man as a stand-in.
Rookie director Aleksander Bach opts for plenty of frenetic cutting and technical gimmicks in an effort to build a sense of urgency the generic script doesn’t justify. His use of slow motion, strobe lights, pulsating music, and bullet POV shots tends to make things more chaotic than cool.
The screenplay by Skip Woods (Swordfish), who also penned the first go-around at this material, makes a half-hearted effort to examine the dangers of rogue artificial intelligence on the way to an inevitable final showdown.
Naturally, the hope is to launch a franchise. Yet something that seems lost on the makers of Hitman: Agent 47 is that with regard to video games, it’s almost always more fun to play than to watch. That leads a rooting interest in the outcome.