Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a preview screening of Hitman: Agent 47 thanks to Xbox Australia. I must admit I’ve barely played the game myself though have spent hours idly glancing at the screen as my partner and ex-housemate enjoyed discussing their perfect kills nonchalantly. I watched the original Hitman movie and found it fairly underwhelming as far as action movies go, which is disappointing as it has all the potential elements required to make a fun, fast paced movie. I went into Hitman: Agent 47 with high hopes and low expectations, which were quickly far succeeded by what turned out to be a somewhat intelligent and well-paced movie.
For me this movie was a vast improvement on the original take on Hitman, where previously it had been all about gun sequences they showed Agent 47 and Katia using their heightened senses to eliminate targets, with the occasional well lined up assassin style shot. They had some beautiful moments where time appeared to slow, or one of our leads saw a sort of flash forward of how events were about to go down to show their minds working through the situation prior to acting. It added an interesting element to what would have otherwise been a fun but pretty straightforward action movie. The use of their bodies as weapons as well as surroundings and every day objects made them appear far more formidable and helped make more apparent the genetic reasoning behind their abilities.
There was a decent amount of storyline to compliment the action, the ongoing search for the man who was the key to reviving the Agent program is the central plot, but figuring out who Agent 47’s actual target is and constant shifts in the implied “good guys” really flesh it out and help introduce you to a variety of characters. One of the more notable characters, Zachary Quinto’s John Smith, pretty early on declares himself as being better than our pseudo hero Agent 47 leading to a sort of rivalry throughout the movie that ends in an electrifying final scene between the two. It’s not a new dynamic in these sorts of movies but their one liner quips and tense energy was quite amusing to watch, paving the way for a sequel that promises more “no my dick is bigger” rivalry. That being said the movie does a good job of making you ponder at times who the real villain is even as they point vigorously at the Syndicate Corporation as the big bad.
I must admit there was one moment in the movie that had me sitting on the edge of my seat, unable to tear my eyes from the screen as I began to feel an overwhelming sense of dread. It was the moment they lead me to believe that they might be about to give the leading lady, Katia, a love interest. Much to my relief it never came to fruition and our heroine got to instead learn how to embrace her survivalist nature and kick some “bad guy” butt. I like that they stayed away from this well-worn trope and used a different avenue to show her struggle with who she is and the emotions she is experiencing. While Katia started out being fairly self-sufficient, even if a little unhinged, there was a few scenes where she slipped into damsel in distress territory that felt a bit heavy handed. At the end of the day she is an emotionally damaged woman who just found out her life is basically one big experiment, and she managed to still be fairly kickass which is better than can be said for most female leads in action franchises.
Agent 47 himself was not an overly remarkable character, though in this instance I think that actually worked to the overall movie’s benefit. He is merely one of many, though it is hard to say whether he is more in touch with his humanity than other Agents or just very good at mimicking behaviors to be (as he himself says) what he needs to be to get the job done. He gets some great lines and his straight shooting, calm style gives a bit of well-timed comedy. I think the role itself was well cast; he was a more slender, expressive and intellectual Hitman who uses brain over brawn, not just your average muscle bound macho killing machine. I found this closer to what I’ve seen of the game, which focuses more on strategic takedowns and assassinations, a systematic mind working out the best way to handle any given situation. There is a scene where he’s watching a screen, utterly still but you can see a muscle jumping in his jaw that speaks of a tension, a concentration that is unbreakable and it was one of the most memorable images in the movie for me.
All in all if you are a fan of action movies and the Hitman franchise I’d say this is worth a watch, it’s a good movie to go see with a couple of mates to ooh and ahh at the fight scenes, snicker at the witty one liners and enjoy the lighter thriller aspects that give you pause to think about who the real villain is here. While it’s clear the director wants you to feel connected to these characters and at some points you do, it is definitely less psychological thriller more “WOO, that was awesome how he used that sheet of metal to destroy that guy”. I actually quite enjoyed the movie, it was the perfect easy to watch mid-week film and made for a lovely date night so I say check it out!