At least once a year, there’s a film that is so mind-numbingly awful that it feels like someone is deliberately telling whatever audience it’s assembled to collectively fuck off. That’s the best way I can describe Hitman: Agent 47. Considering the critical and financial skewering that 2007’s Hitman faced, the only reasons for rebooting the property are (A) someone came up with a better way to adapt the video game series, or (B) Fox really didn’t want to lose the rights to the intellectual property. Considering Fox also dumped Fantastic Four in August after making that in an effort to salvage I.P., it’s a safe bet that (B) was the reason. In the process, they managed to make something that’s actually inferior to its predecessor.
The reboot follows Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) as he acquires his latest assignment from Diana (Angelababy). His mission: find Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) and her father, Dr. Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds), who created the Agent program decades ago. Since Litvenko’s disappearance, criminals like Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) have failed in their attempts to replicate the program. They want to find Litvenko to resurrect his program, which Agent 47 would rather see destroyed permanently. Complicating matters is an American named John Smith (Zachary Quinto), who manages to track Katia down on his own – but to what ends?
It doesn’t really matter. Hitman: Agent 47 is a chore of a film, and almost everyone seems to be going through the motions for this project. Hitman wasn’t a good film by any stretch, but at least Timothy Olyphant had some semblance of a personality. Here, Friend plays Agent 47 as he would be presented in the Hitman games; the problem with this approach is that in the video games, the lack of a personality for Agent 47 is intentional, so the player can insert themselves into the character. That sort of approach doesn’t work in film. It’s just boring. I’m not sure how much of this is Friend’s fault, though. The blandness of Agent 47 is replicated everywhere else. Only Quinto appears to be having some fun with his role.
Even the one area where the film threatens to get interesting – fight sequences – are dulled by first-time director Aleksander Bach’s choices. Like most of the performances and the story as a whole, the direction and visual style of the film are the epitome of bland. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Terminator showed that you can create a film about an emotionless killer and make it gripping. But the people behind Hitman: Agent 47 seem to be going out of their way to make the dullest possible version of this story. Audiences would be better off playing a Hitman game for the duration of the film.