‘Hitman Agent 47’ misses the mark (IANS Review – *1/2)

Film: “Hitman Agent 47”; Language: English; Cast: Rupert Friend, Ciaran Hinds, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Thomas Kretschmann; Director: Aleksander Bach; Rating: *1/2

Based on the 2002 released video game, “Hitman”, the film is an exaggerated generic action one with a muddled plotline and an equally confused characterization.

In a nutshell, it is the story of an elite assassin, Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), who is assigned two new kills to protect the world from an army of prospective killers, but is now torn between his emotion and duty.

The film begins with a verbose prologue that informs us that geneticist Peter Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds) the head of a secret bioengineering program in Salsburg, Austria, had successfully designed the “perfect” assassins.

These assassins, known as “agents” were genetically engineered from conception to be a perfect killing machine with unprecedented strength, speed, agility, stamina, and intelligence. They are unable to feel guilt, remorse, or fear for their actions.

Each “agent” is known by the unique last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his head and every consecutive number is a superior clone of the previous one.

Many agencies and organizations tried over the years to replicate the Agent Program, yet all had failed. A corporation known as Syndicate International determines that the only way to truly replicate the program is to find Litvenko or his daughter Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware), who he had abandoned as a young kid as she would lead them to him.

On the other hand, Syndicate member Delriego is on the brink of locating Litvenko when he is killed by Agent 47, who is tasked with stopping the Syndicate International from getting their hands on Litvenko by the ICA (International Contracts Agency).

The narration progresses with Katia, searching for her father in Berlin, Germany and is soon trailed by Agent 47 and another Agent named John Smith (Zachary Quinto) who happens to be a member of the Syndicate International. Their cat and mouse chase and changing equations forms the plot of the tale.

The first half of the film is almost all action, and you get hooked on only when emotions come into play and you learn a little more about the characters.

British actor Rupert Friend, with his sleek suit and red tie, stiff upper-lip and stoic demeanour plays the part of Agent 47 to perfection, but is rarely given a chance to be anything but a blank slate. Zachary Quinto matches Friend’s calmness and confidence.

Veterans, Ciaran Hinds and Thomas Kretschmann as Antoine Le Clerq, the Chairman of Syndicate International, give smooth performances in poorly written roles.

Hannah Ware as Katia, fares slightly better as a mean action heroine who does not need as much protection as the men think. She looks good, handles the action well, and even gets the chance to show some emotion. Her story is cliche ridden with a character arc, even if it is an unbelievable one as she goes from a timid nobody to super-powered killer in the course of just a couple of days.

First time director Aleksander Bach borrows heavily from the “Matrix” style of filming, which is more like a montage which overlooks the passage of time and space.

The film looks great but at the same time is disorienting. And the fault lies with the convoluted screenplay by Skip Woods and Michael Finch. It gets confusing to keep a track of who is working for whom and what they hope to gain. Also, the climax goes against the logic of the characters we were first fed.

The film may appeal only to the “Hitman” video games fans.

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