Star Rating:

Hitman: Agent 47

Director: Aleksander Bach

Actors: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware

Release Date: Thursday 27th August 2015

Genre(s): Action

Running time: 96 minutes

There's been at least a dozen attempts to turn a videogame into a successful film. Most have failed. There's endless arguments as to why most of them fail. Some would argue that it's the calibre of writers and directors that drag it down. Others would argue that it's about how gaming is an active experience whereas films are passive. Whatever the case may be, there's one thing that's undeniable - they don't work, but studios will keep trying to force them out whether we like them or not. And it's easy to see why. Gaming studios who own the rights to them are eager to sell them and with most recognisable comic-book franchises costing millions to buy the rights, video game franchises are the next thing.

If, however, these films continue to be as poor as this, it's not going to happen. Hitman: Agent 47 is based on the franchise of the same name. There was a poorly-received attempt back in 2007 with Timothy Olyphant that more or less put the nail in the coffin for the fortunes of Hitman. Yet, here we are, eight years later with another run at it. This time around, Olyphant has been replaced by Rupert Friend and drops the political intrigue and military conspiracy for something simpler. Much, much simpler. This time around, 47 is tasked with tracking down a young woman (Hannah Ware) who's trying to find her father, a geneticist who created the Agent program of which 47 is a member. The Agent program is posited along the same lines as Treadstone in The Bourne Identity - they're super agents with exceptional abilities and the whole thing was shut down.

Standing in their way is Zachary Quinto, who plays the imaginatively titled John Smith. Much like 47, he has super abilities - however they've somehow managed to leave his personality in place. Sort of. When they eventually the father figure / creator, played by Ciaran Hinds, the story just flattens out completely and draws to its inevitable end at a lighting pace.

Rupert Friend, as we know from Homeland, is a hugely capable actor. Likewise, Thomas Krestchmann, who plays the big baddie, is an equally talented actor. Hannah Ware, Ciaran Hinds - the same. So the problem isn't there. Let's look at the director. Aleksander Bach is directing his first feature here, coming from a background in music videos. The script itself is written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch. Finch wrote the largely forgettable November Man with Pierce Brosnan earlier this year whilst Woods wrote the laughable X-Men: Origins - Wolverine and the equally atrocious A Good Day To Die Hard. And that tells you everything you need to know about Hitman: Agent 47.

The script and story is laughably bad. You know there's something truly wrong when your characters are consistently asking people what's going on and giving them avenues to churn out tons of exposition. Not only that, the dialogue is so predictable and cringey that we just don't care about the exposition. Example? "I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with me." And yes, that was robbed right from the pages of Watchmen. The consistent use of slow-mo and poor CGI explosions makes it all flat, dull and uninteresting. There isn't a single bit of danger or threat to the whole thing because we know 47 is going to walk away from it all. Moreover, the action sequences themselves are directed like a bad music video for an industrial metal band, all strobe-lighting and heavy editing.

What's perhaps even more frustrating about the whole idea of Hitman is that it wasn't a terribly good game to begin with. There are a dozen different videogames that could be very easily turned into a successful film franchise with the right director and script. Why they thought going back to Hitman and trying to turn it into a Bourne Identity rip-off baffles the mind.