It’s a (well known?) fact that when 20th Century Fox announced a new Hitman movie, rebooting the concept with a new actor in tow in early 2013 - that the plan was to have Paul Walker take the place of the, now titular, Agent 47. This of course never came to pass, as - most would know - Walker died several months later in a car accident while this film was still in pre-production, and in the middle of making Fast & Furious 7. But I still can’t get the image of making Walker bald and have him trotting out killing people. It just never seemed like a good casting choice to begin with, and even now I struggle to really see how it would have worked.
Game Over #15: Hitman: Agent 47
Dir: Aleksander Bach
Box Office: $82,347,656 Worldwide
Instead the film eventually recast and released last year to a largely mooted response. More on that later. The director, first time feature maker with this film, mostly a music video director from Poland (I’m sensing a trend of European directors making game films - a thought to explore later on) - Aleksander Bach. He leads a film screenplay written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch, based on a story by Woods. Woods had brought us such *cough* “brilliant gems” (just my opinion) like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Swordfish. He was also a producer on this film, possibly also not a great sign in my book on having good expectations on the final product.
As mentioned above the franchise has had one other film simply called Hitman, which was released back in 2007. Woods, likewise, worked on that film as well which probably is the reason for the production role on this film. It may have also begun planning as a direct sequel before being rebooted, but that’s just speculation on my part.
Unsurprisingly, and on the major trend so far, the “sequel/reboot” made less money than that one, so I’ll eventually return to cover it and speak more about the game origins then. But basically the short you need to know if you don’t know - Hitman is a SquareEnix published stealth action title where you play as a bald, cloned, assassin, usually in a suit (but not always - as he will often wear disguises) with a bar code on the back of his head, named 47.
As mentioned this new film seems to be unrelated to the original, so basically I’m going in with about that much info on the small amount of the game series I’ve played (the sixth main title is out now - well kind of, it’s episodic, plus there are several spin offs) It’s probably also the first game in the game movies list I’ve played not that much of (most of my experience was a few hours with the fifth title Hitman Absolution, and I believe I played some of the original in 2000... you know, just if you were wanting to know).
Being such a recent film it is also the only one so I’ve covered far I haven’t seen before watching it, because of it being so recent (August 2015). Given the box office returns and writing history of Woods’ other works I’m not exactly holding out much hope but, who knows... I could end up being surprised. So with all that background in place, lets get into it.
Voiceover and images during opening credits.
Basically all back story. Genetically modified solider program started in the 1960's by Russia, humans created without emotion. No fear, no remorse, the perfect killers. The doctor in charge, Litvenko, vanished in the wake of the program due to the guilt of what the program was, and eventually the whole thing was disbanded and evidence of it destroyed - although the program was attempted by others, but all failed to replicate the outcome. Instead they realized they needed the original doctor in charge, but he was very difficult to find. The man put in charge of this, Delriego, is unable to find him but instead evidence of Litvenko’s daughter is found, and she becomes the key to finding him in order to restart the program.
Explanations done. Is it worth noting right now how much I hate heavy exposition in voice over during starting or titles? We’re already off to a bad start.
We zoom into Salzburg, Austria, and the “Syndicate International - Research Facility” where the search is on for the daughter, now grown up. Conveniently for us we arrive just as the search finds her via CCTV in Germany, as the guy in charge - Delriego - stares at the screen. Unfortunately for them, a bald headed guy with a bar code on the back managed to access their network, disable their search, and force the staff to evacuate the building. The more senior members exit in a bunch of Audi’s which get tagged with a remote tracking device enabled by the same bald person.
We follow the action visually via the camera view turning into maps, and cross cutting as all of the cars head for a safe house. Instead they are rerouted without noticing and end up driving towards a bomb under a manhole cover. The first car is taken out by the explosion, also hitting an overpass from being blasted upward. The remaining cars reverse and divert, heading another way tripping a laser and arming a rifle mounted in a building which takes out the driver of the second car. The car spins out and smashes into a building. The remaining car with Delriego in it, heads towards the target destination.
As it arrives the road lowers into a ramp and leads into a hidden underground car park. The three men get out of the car and head down some stairs into the building, and from there through a bunch of security measures into the safe house itself. Inside are two guys stationed at their desks, watching the same feeds. However when Delreigo approaches them for an update, he finds they’ve been killed - shot in the head. The feeds go out, the two bodyguards are shot and killed, and then the killer reveals himself. The bald man... in a suit, red tie. Clearly Agent 47 (Rupert Friend).
This hitman seems to be here to stop the relaunch of the program. Delreigo tries to bluff that they have Litvenko and have already restarted the program, but the hitman doesn’t buy it. He asks where “Katia van Dees” is located but the guy in charge ignores him, and instead warns he has a chip implanted by his heart. If it stops, a backup squad will storm the safe house. Again the hitman doesn’t buy it, instead drawing a knife up to his eye, threatening he doesn’t need him, just pieces of him. Delreigo folds and gives up that she has been located in Berlin, and then gives up his access codes to help track her. The hitman lets him go, and begins to leave. Delreigo runs to a weapons locker and unlocks it in order to attack the hitman, only to find a final surprise left there instead - an explosive device, which kills him as the hitman leaves the room.
Sure enough, just as he said - the backup arrives, immediately, as alarms go off and lights flash... the hitman readies himself in the dark, with wire rope in hand and gun ready.... he easily dispatches the guys. More arrive and more shooting happens, it’s like fish in a barrel for him. Mixed in some hand to hand and the fact the guys shooting at him can’t aim for crap, and it’s an effortless one handed fight that’s all style and no substance. The strobe light going on is also very annoying. The enemies have a frequent ability to go limp and fall or be thrown over railing and hit other stair railings on their way down, in an impressive looking but cringe worthy style. The hitman exits an elevator, more dead guys inside, adjusts his cuff, pistol gripped in the other hand and walks off.
Cut to Singapore. Or whats supposed to be Singapore maybe... because at this point it looks like CG towers anywhere. And the headquarters of the Syndicate International group. It’s white and high tech inside, and at a desk sits Syndicate director Antoine LeClerq (Thomas Kretschmann). He’s informed of the killing of Delreigo and that it might have been an agent that did it. He orders that the girl is the important target, and that Delreigo was close and they need to get to her before the agent does.
Cut again, Berlin. We’re in a building where the woman, Katia (Hannah Ware), everyone is after is looking through shredded documents and photo negatives, piecing them together. It’s some sort of archive. She’s trying to find a person, who lived here between 1989 and 1990. I can assume this is her father that she is looking for. A woman who works there is trying to help but without a name she can’t be anymore helpful.
She tries to put her hand on the Katia’s arm, but she immediately flinches and pulls herself away. Pleading for help, she immediately uses some high level of statistics to help pull the number down for the woman to help, but she continues to say she cannot. She asks instead who this man is to Katia, who tells her she doesn’t know, before getting up and leaving.
She takes a bus, and we start to get the feeling that she has some sort of heightened ability to things. The clear and obvious answer is she is like the agents, but I’m guessing ahead of where the plot is going. Sitting on the bus is a guy who glances at her before she gets off the bus and he follows her. She enters a shop, crossing out notes in her notebook before buying a passport from the dodgy creepy shop owner (who’s played by Jurgen Prochnow, making his second game movie appearance on our list so far).
Passport in hand, she’s making her way down the street when she’s attacked by visions of whats going on around her including a woman being attacked in her home by her partner, who she saves by using a police call box. They’re really ramping up the anxiety/awareness thing, so I’m fairly confident where this is going.
Elsewhere in the city the Agent has arrived at a hotel, weapons in hand. He uses a laptop and logs in to a secured database which accesses the local police files as well, and tries to find the woman. He leaves it running, while he sits and waits, eyes shut, on a couch.
Katia arrives back to where she is staying, and we’re introduced to her pin wall where she is trying to track this man down. There are documents in various European and Asian languages, clearly showing he’d moved around a lot. She is defeated after the days events, and the search in general, as she looks over the stuff on the wall. She ends up taking some medication and lies down on the bed, crying.
It’s now almost night and the Hitman is still waiting where we left him, but the computer pings up a result and he is immediately alert and moves to see it. Via the camera on the bus he has been able to track her and find out where she got on board.
We cut to a car crossing into an unknown location, and a phone call from a woman called Diana to Agent 47, who is finally named as such. Diana is his handler/contact. She warns him an member from the Syndicate has also tracked down the woman, but they have no other details on who he is. He’s also told he has 48 hours to terminate both targets, the Syndicate member and Katia. Agent 47, or 47 as I’m now just going to call him, grabs his gear and leaves the hotel.
Back at Katia’s, she is awaken from her sleep by visions of 47 walking through somewhere in the city. She gets up and checks a subway map, before getting ready and escaping with cash and the stuff from the wall. Meanwhile 47 has arrived in the building and is looking for her. But it’s the old cinematic bait and switch, as when he arrives the place is empty and see has already fled to the rooftops. He finds the empty medication container and the map for the Subway she left behind (somehow he immediately deducts the same station she had been looking at for no reason), which we then cut to.
Inside the station Katia swipes some pills from a woman’s bag that she “senses” are there, before she is cut off by the guy who followed her on the train. He knows who she is including her name, so it’s safe to guess as he’s not the agent he’s from the Syndicate. He introduces himself as John Smith (the most generic name possible, played by the not at all generically named Zachary Quinto). He offers a coffee, then a living, then he warns her that she is going to be killed by someone, 47, who clearly Katia has seen flashes of and has now arrived at the station. He tells her why she’s been targeted and that he’s here to help her. He instructs her where to go and that an escape has been planned, just in time to have a shoot out with 47 on the platform while she escapes.
The gun fight ends with Smith’s gun being disabled, and 47 targeting Katia running away - so Smith tackles him off the platform, landing on the roof of a train which they then rolls off of and onto the tracks. The two end up in a fist fight and avoid getting hit by a train, before continuing to fight on another track. Realizing another train is coming Smith gets back up on the platform and 47 ducks under it as it passes, both avoiding getting hit. Katia escapes into the back areas and John catches up to her. The run through a car park with 47 in pursuit, before jumping into a car and taking off.
47 takes out the driver as they escape, causing the car to crash into some parked cars. The two get out on foot and run off, while - oddly - 47 continues to just walk slowly in their direction. It doesn’t really make much sense. John spells out that he works for Syndicate and is there to protect Katia from 47 who is to kill her. 47 continues his slow walk behind them while John and Katia make their way towards to the US Embassy. 47 stays away, while John gets out his gun in front of the gate and shoots into the air - knowing the two will be taken into custody.
John is placed in an interrogation room, while Katia is taken to an office. Someone from the Embassy asks her what is going on, only for her to have visions of 47's arrival to the Embassy as he’s let in through the security checkpoints. He hasn’t even hidden his weapons, allowing his rifle to be scanned and setting off the scanner with his handguns, knives, and clips under his coat. The security surround him, and he’s arrested.
Cut to him chained to a table. The guy from the embassy walks into the room and proceeds to bring in and spell off all the weapons 47 was carrying with him, he seems impressed. 47 takes in a tattoo inside the mans wrist while he proceeds to say they ran his photo and prints and couldn’t find anything on him. 47 tells him his name is 47. “That’s not a name.” “No but it is mine.” Ugh. He comes out straight ahead and says he’s an assassin, and then starts asking the man about his wife and children, pissing him off enough that he loads the sniper rifle sitting on the table.
47 knocks up the table and moves, allowing the hair trigger impact to fire the rifle and hit the chain allowing him to move. He takes out the two guards in the room quickly, stealing a handgun off one and uses it to break free of the remaining handcuff chain link, before hitting the guy over the head with the gun.
Hearing the commotion both Katia and John realize whats going on. John gets up and runs at the two way mirror, while still handcuffed, smashing through and then attacking the guys on the other side. He grabs the handcuff keys and a weapon, freeing himself and then collecting Katia. 47 has dressed himself as one of the guards and is carrying his rifle on his back, but is seen by one of the other army guards who he takes out. Katia and John are now on the streets somehow and 47 is out too, now dressed differently again in the army guards gear. John ends up holding up a police car, while 47 lines up a shot with his sniper rifle but is blocked by a moving garbage truck.
John and Katia get in the car and drive away from 47's direction, while he runs into a building and starts to get a higher position on the fleeing car. Demanding explanations, John explains to Katia that the man she’s looking for is Peter Aaron Litvenko, and that he’s her father. He explains all that we were told in the opening voice over, genetic research, agents, everything. Meanwhile 47 has taken a spot up on the roof and has lined up their fleeing police car. He preps a shot and fires, flying through gaps and moving vehicles before smashing through the police car window and getting Katia in the arm.
At a hotel we see that it only grazed across her arm, not doing any serious injury. Seems like a lucky break or was it somehow intentional? Katia asks if John is actually someone else, which he admits his actual name is Brian. She asks for more information about her father, but John/Brian tells her he’s supposed to be protecting her, not helping her find her father. She won’t take no for an answer and plans to head off to continue finding him. So instead John spills more info, including the fact a file they found on him explained both his daughters existence but that he had “changed her” by enhancing her survival skills. Why she has been able to hide so easily and for so long and why she’s constantly anxious and afraid.
She pulls out her map and research, and John explains to her various bits of information they have on Litvenko which allows her to slowly narrow down her search and discount leads she’d previous had on his location. He’s 72, born in the Ukraine, has rheumatoid arthritis, has stage 3 lung cancer, last seen in South Korea in 2011, like growing orchids and speaks English, Russian, Mandarin and Tamil. She asks why Tamil, and finds out her mother comes from Sri Lanka. Katia seems to have worked out where he is located, but won’t say it. John says he’ll help but she needs to tell him where for his help.
The phone rings conveniently blocking the conversation going further, which John answers. We don’t hear whats on the other end but he immediately grabs his gun and goes for the door, only for it to fly open and 47 walks in shooting John repeatedly in the chest and back onto the bed. Katia is in shock, while 47 walks up to her, knocking her out, before carrying her out over his shoulder in a suit bag.
Back with Syndicate director Antoine LeClerq, he’s bemoaning that Smith was supposed to be the perfect person for the mission yet he failed. Litvenko is still the target, but now LeClerq tells the guy he’s talking to it’s better the girl is dead than allowing her to lead 47 to Litvenko herself.
Katia is awakened in a darkened room, hands cross tied with rope. 47 tells her that she is alive because he chose not to kill her, but he tells her “they will” after they use her to find her father. Somehow by touching 47 she is given flashbacks to her own past, which unlocks her memories of her father trying to escape with his family, her mother is shot and killed, and she sees a young 47 running in the woods who witnessed their escape. We also see how he left her behind to hide while he escaped, telling her she will live. All fairly convenient plot explanations being able to now see this and somehow been repressed from Katia’s memory - you’d think she’d remember being abandoned in a underground space - but let’s just go with it.
47 tells her they don’t have a lot of time, but leaves her to untie herself, before revealing she’s sat in front of a giant jet turbine which he then powers on to full. Katia focuses her vision and realizes she can escape easily, and proceeds to untwist from the ropes and then let the chair be pulled off the ropes into the turbine in order to be free. She catches up to 47 and demands answers on what happened and who she is, to which he explains that she doesn’t need the pills to clear her head and that she is the same as him, only better, explaining her ability to just free herself, her language abilities... it’s all been programmed. Also she’s not Katia van Dees, she’s “Quatre-Vingt-dix” which is French for 90.... “43 versions better than you” she says. Thankfully the Syndicate doesn’t know this or else she would be the target they’re after. He shot her to mark and track her, not kill her.
They’ve been tracked down by a large squad of armed men. 47 sees this as another test for Katia that needs to be faced head on, with the programming her father gave her. 47 turns on equipment in the factory to create distractions for the armed men making their way through. He lets Katia use her abilities to work out where the men are coming from, before vanishing leaving Katia to take them out - including throwing a guy into a gear system which spits out blood on the other side and snapping the neck of another.
He fires a bolt through another guys head and crushes two more with Katia’s visions. Katia becomes a distraction while 47 slices one guy with some sharp metal, but then John Smith makes a surprise reappearance and smashes Katia’s head into an engine. Smith and 47 face off (with some stinker of forced dialogue to boot) where Smith ends up with the upper hand. Katia ends up saving the day however, shooting a glass wall behind Smith which drags two of the guys into the engine from earlier, which explodes taking out some more... which Smith and 47 both somehow avoid being sucked into or burnt by.
47 and Katia now out on the streets, 47 explains that Smith had titanium body armor placed under his skin via injection, which is why he was able to survive being shot at point blank range earlier, and nerves altered to be faster - both Syndicate experiments. I want to say the film has jumped the shark at this moment, but maybe that really happened much earlier anyway. 47 asks for Katia to explain where her father is, which she tells him he’s not planning to hurt him if he lies to her about that she will kill him. At this stage we see that others are monitoring 47's moments and listening to their conversation, including Diana. She reveals he’s in Singapore, which is where the Syndicate headquarters are as we saw earlier - he’s hiding in plain sight.
Diana makes a phone call, and we see it’s another agent who’s just killed someone by electrocution via a toaster in a bathtub (which a rubber duck is floating in it, all in reference to Hitman games). She asks he makes his way to Singapore, which he agrees to.
Smith returns to the hotel room where Katia’s map is still on the wall and searches through her stuff, including her notebook and the map on the wall, hoping to find some sort of lead on where they’re headed. He seems to somehow work out that Singapore is the place they’re coming to and that Litvenko is there, which he relays via phone to LeClerq in the headquarters.
What I assume is stock footage of a plane arriving is shown and now Katia and 47 are in Singapore Airport. 47 steals a pilots jacket and another ones hat to avoid being detected on camera. Katia plans out her own diversion which consists of stopping the luggage belt which will distract nearby cameras. Two suited men respond while she continues to move quietly around the terminal avoiding cameras, before ending up outside where 47 awaits with a car for them. Unfortunately an outside camera managed to pick her up just as she got into the car, which is found in a search people now know she is in Singapore.
Katia and 47 are in a hotel, where Katia ends up asking about the bar code and number (she also asks if it hurts being added which he says yes to, which seems to go against the whole no emotions, no pain thing but whatever). Somehow Katia also already knows exactly where in Singapore Litvenko will be, due to his Orchid interests. A bit of a leap but nothing else is said. So we’ll just go with it. She also knows beyond the Lung Cancer he has to use an inhalant to breath properly... again no idea where this info came from (and 47 seems surprised by it all). Katia goes on the attack about 47's personality and the idea of suppressing all emotions as well. 47 tries to avoid discussing it and instead moves to go to sleep in his chair, leaving Katia to take a midnight topless swim in an outdoor pool.
Katia returns, noticing 47's guns, which she then decides to pull apart. In the morning however both of them realize people are coming to kill them, 47 awakens and reaches for his guns to shoot to find they’re not there - instead he has to rush in and take the guys out by hand, while Katia quickly tries to reassemble the guns she pulled apart. After 47 has dispatched them she comes and gives her apologies for pulling the guns apart, explaining when she’s anxious and can’t sleep she pulls things apart. “Don’t do it again.” he replies. Turns out the attackers aren’t Syndicate but another party, because both of them have an open contract out on them. 47 gives her a knife and tells her to try not take it apart. Burn.
Katia realizes, in more movie logic, that the camera outside the terminal saw them which is why they were tracked down so quickly, and 47 calls continues his compliments and calls her sloppy at the job. In an elevator 47 steals some kids inhaler as they get out - well specifically he trades it for a knife. Given the look on the kids face that seems like a bad idea. They leave the hotel, but the camera inside picked them up - possibly intentionally - letting the Syndicate know, which we see back at their headquarters. Smith is there with some goons and LeClerq orders Litvenko and Katia be brought to him.
Katia is now in a giant greenhouse where she finally comes across Litvenko, who tells her she shouldn’t have come, but had recognized her because she looks like her mother. The end up discussing why he left her behind, her mother, the work he was doing, and more - including that Katia was created because her mother couldn’t have children. 47 turns up and Litvenko expects him to kill him, but he doesn’t, and Katia ends up babbling on about choices and humanity, which Litvenko reveals that 47 is technically her brother and I guess that he gave her family after all. It’s all very trite and as terrible as it probably reads here.
Thankfully some more assassins turn up and ruin the reunion which 47 sees (but Katia didn’t for some reason when she’s been seeing premonitions of everything else, go figure) which he quickly takes out and the three of them escape back to 47's car and take off. However they’re blocked by Smith and his crew in a black 4WD and a number of men on black bikes. A chase proceeds while 47 explains to Litvenko what’s going on and why they want him.
47 takes out three guys on bikes before asking Katia for a direction they should head to, left or right, but Katia instead tells him to go straight ahead which 47 does, smashing through a glass wall, narrowly avoiding Smith’s 4WD which takes out the remaining bike instead. Bollards start to raise on the exit that 47 races towards, Smiths’ 4WD not far behind. 47 just manages to clear them, but instead the 4WD doesn’t - smashing and flipping over instead. Smith still is alive, unsurprisingly, and orders all the other units to take them out in the city.
47 speeds through the city while Litvenko puffs away on his inhaler trying to breath, while they come up with a plan to try and get close to LeClerq in order to kill him, hoping it will end the Syndicates pursuit of them all, who is secure in the headquarters. 47 says it’s impossible, and 14 other agents have all tried and failed at it. They’re interrupted as a metal hook and cable are shot into the front of the car, causing it to spin out and forcing 47 to make it come to a stop. More and more hooks are connected, while 47 tries to accelerate hoping to break free.
Armed guys run in and start using the lines to slide in towards the car, so 47 exits the car and begins shooting them down off the lines as they come in, and taking out others making their way across the ground.
After some absurd shooting poses, including while lifting himself off the ground via his legs only shooting upside down... they begin to flee on foot, but one of the guys taken out accidentally fires as he drops and shoots Litvenko in the leg. He orders 47 take Katia away from him, which he does while slipping in the inhaler to Litvenko’s pocket that he stole from the kid earlier. Katia doesn’t want to leave but Litvenko pushes her away and 47 pulls, while Smith comes across Litvenko on the ground. Katia of course wants to go back and threatens 47, but he insults her and uses a pin on her to knock her out before walking off with her unconscious.
Back at the headquarters, Smith has Litvenko tied up in a chair and is threatening torture towards him if he doesn’t hand over the information they want to get the agent program up and running again. 47 is somehow observing all this from a computer on a rooftop, seemingly somehow hacked the security network inside the building. Smith is insulted by Litvenko instead, so Smith orders him injected with some sort of experimental drug which doesn’t seem to be working as well as they planned. This gets LeClerq annoyed, who was also watching what was happening and instead decides to leave his safe space and personally get involved. 47 makes a phone call to emergency services for some unknown reason while Smith demands Litvenko be injected a second time, even though it might kill him.
Just as Smith is about to do this himself, LeClerq storms in and tells him to stop and orders everyone outside of the room. The two end up having a conversation about what LeCerq wants and Litvenko tells him he’s wrong, before telling him he won’t do what LeCerq wants to build his army of super soldiers, the clear intent he has restarting the Agent program. LeCerq threatens Katia to convince Litvenko to do what he asks... “Give me what I want and I’ll leave her in peace.” Litvenko response is the smartest part of writing in the entire movie so far. “If I give you what you want, there will be no peace.”
They’re interrupted by 47 who comes in over their internal communications system, surprising everyone there. He reveals the answers LeCerq wants are not Litvenko, but rather Katia - who he has conveniently tied into a helicopter flying by remote outside of their building. Why trade them he is asked, because he always closes his contracts he responds. Litvenko is released from the chair to be taken to a secure location, he quickly grabs his inheritor just as they take him from the room. Katia is tied to the flight stick, which she then pushes forward - smashing the helicopter into the building, killing some of the men and stopping short of killing everyone else including Smith, LeCerq, and her father plus a number of guards who instead decide they should escape the building.
A fire response team moves into the building, while some of the security detail move into secure the destroyed helicopter. They find no one inside the wreckage, and instead Katia pops out and kills them before they know what him them. The sound however still alerts the rest of the team while 47 taunts them over the speaker system. Katia kills more men while Smith realizes the fire crew arriving too fast means he wasn’t on the helicopter and instead is inside the building. Arriving at LeCerq’s secure room, they instead find 47 there who shoots at LeCerq but the bullet is stopped by Smith’s hand. He orders them to secure them out of the building before he and 47 go to battle.
The two of them gun to hand, as 47 fires his weapons at Smith while deflecting his punches, eventually knocking Smith over while shooting at him repeatedly. The shots do little as the titanium in his body seems to stop every shot. The fight moves onto hand to hand, with Smith gaining the upper hand while punching holes in a wall. It reveals an electrical cable which 47 notices, and while distracting Smith he manages to choke him with wire and anchors it into the cable, electrocuting Smith. Katia arrives just after and the two head towards the roof taking out guards on the way.
LeCerq, his assistant, and Litvenko continue towards the helipad while we’re treated to an amusing elevator interlude with Katia and 47 as they prepare.
On the roof a helicopter is waiting and the men run towards it, several more guards flanking the rooftop. 47 and Katia arrive and start taking out all of the men while the helicopter takes off, distracting Katia from the assistant picking up one of the discarded guns and shooting at her. 47 responds, stepping in the way and taking the bullet for her before both of them shoot the assistant.
The helicopter continues to fly away with Litvenko watching, saying Katia’s mother would be proud of her. LeCerq doesn’t get whats happening, but clearly Litvenko knows the inhaler he has isn’t his - lifts it up to his head, just before LeCerq realizes what he has and clicks down on the top of it - detonating an explosive 47 had put inside, blowing up the helicopter. Katia is shocked while 47 pulls out a phone and talks to Diana confirming his target, LeCerq, has been killed. He’s then asked about his second target, he glances at Katia and then throws away his phone.
Katia points her gun at 47, shocked and angry that LeCerq was his target the whole time. He reveals it was to stop the agent program once and for all, and to set Katia free. He explains Litvenko knew this, dying to save his children and stop the agent program from going on as well. 47 warns Katia that there will be many more trained operatives on their way up, but Katia tells him he’s wrong, there is just one. The elevator doors open and standing inside is another agent, identical to 47.
We see the barcode on the back of his head, it ends in 48. He ready his weapon and fires, while Katia and 47 shoot back, blasting to white and fading to black. Cue credits.
Part way through, we end up with post credit scene. It’s John Smith, now with all his hair gone white, including eyebrows and eyelashes. He snaps awake. Reading another sequel that is unlikely to happen.
Sadly I wasn’t surprised.... while it’s not the toughest film to sit through, Hitman: Agent 47 is still a bit of a mess. It’s a hard outcome to discuss because it’s not a bad film, but it’s just not really going to be that memorable of one either.
Visually sharp but kinda meandering all over the place, the film doesn’t quite know what it really wants to be. The action is all serviceable but often forgettable, it’s original parts too short and don’t happen often enough, and the dialogue often turns horrific.
The actors all do just okay, but I’m still not even sure if Rupert Friend is well cast in the title role either. He’s entirely just okay but does nothing to imbue the character with any sense of any depth, although that may more come down to the non emotive sense the character is supposed to have or the direction he was given. I still struggle to see how Paul Walker would have pulled it off either, but it could have been a different take on the character entirely.
It’s actually Hannah Ware’s Katia that holds the film together, with much more depth and range in what’s going on as she goes from anxious and frightened to very powerful by the end.
The visual effects too are a mixed bag, for every good effect or practical part there is some weird looking CG events too. It’s also uneven to say the least. At least the movie pulls no punches on the violence, it portrays the lead character as a real effortless and relentless killer at least, even if some of the effects come off as more comical than they probably intended.
The movie also comes with a fare dose of “movie logic” where people jump to conclusions or somehow end up with information not shown to be earned in any real way either, such as Katia’s ability to track her father down to a specific place in Singapore with no specific knowledge other than he’s there somewhere. It easily reminds me of the gag in Wayne’s World 2 when they’re tracking down Del Preston in “exactly London, England.” (two weeks, two Mike Myers gag references in a row!)
As I alluded to in the introduction, I’ve realized there is a big trend of getting European directors behind a lot of these adaptions, and many come from a large visual background above all; cinematographers, music video directors, etc. combining the Euro visual aesthetic as if this solves the video-game-adaption part of the issue by often mimicking the look or feel of the images - even when the story doesn’t. So far given it’s failures I think it’s a trend that needs to be rethought or these European directors need to begin demanding better scripts. Because so far it’s not working.
I jumped on the issue of not being impressed by Skip Wood’s previous writing work at the start of this article, but sadly he didn’t rise to the challenge here instead giving me the same sort of functional writing he’s always done - providing little surprises and mostly walking it’s way through cliche plot beats. At one point in the film Litvenko calls LeCerq “a derivative thinker, at best” - I almost feel like this is a description I should be putting on Wood’s stories. They feel derivative of better action movies most of the time.
The problems begin right at the start - that opening voice over should have been dropped, it sets up obvious expectations on allegiances - and the info it gives you ends up being repeated by Smith later in the plot anyway. The movie tries to add mystery as to who is telling the truth and tries to set up John Smith as a “Kyle Reese” protector to Katia’s “Sarah Connor” role, until it becomes apparent that 47's role isn’t as clear cut and Katia doesn’t need protecting but to be unleashed.
This could have been a smart reveal and audiences could be surprised by this but too much is given away by such small things as showing more of 47's appearances before then, including his call to his handler. Less of this at the start may have made the turning point in the film less obvious, at least for anyone who hasn’t played the games (or watched the trailer for this one) and made it a better film overall.
At this point Fox likely still has film rights to the character and brand, but no indication has been made if another film will happen. Agent 47 didn’t make anywhere near the expected money Fox probably wanted (releasing US domestic only in 4th place on opening weekend and only made just over $22 million in the US). However no one expected this reboot of the franchise after the previous Hitman film didn’t do much better either, so there is no telling what will be done next. The critical response was exceptionally poor as well and this combination is more likely to kill off any additional films on the franchise I would expect.
Prior to release it appears, again if the internet is to believed, there was discussion that rights were being brought for other SquareEnix properties that could be built into one super universe (like Just Cause, Deus Ex, and others) alongside Hitman but if this actually happened or was just wishful talk by some film producers is yet to be known.
In the meantime the game franchise continues on wards and there is no indication that SquareEnix is planning on stopping with the Hitman titles anytime soon. If there will be another Hitman movie, be it another reboot or sequel, at this stage is anyone’s guess.
In character, yes. Imagery, sometimes. But aside from certain things connected to the games, the story is mostly original and doesn’t try hard to adapt the games in much form. In this case it could have worked because I do feel the franchise has the ability to step above and beyond it’s origins while staying true to character history because the way the franchise has unfolded. However I’ve not been as involved with the game franchise as others will have, and people reading this might be able to tell me more about what should be in a Hitman film that is being overlooked. (Please feel free to comment in the comments below!)
From what I do know Agent 47 takes a few direct key notes to it’s plot from the games, including obviously the Agent clone idea, the super-human girl concept comes from Absolution, Diana as his handler, using disguises, and I know there are direct nods to things in the games like the certain key visuals, such as the pose in the elevator and the toaster death with the rubber duck. But they’re all very superficial as far as I can see.
The setup with the post-credits scene and John Smith intends to turn him into a character from the game world, named The Albino, who is the closest the organization in the games has come to making more Agents - which too is also close to the situation in the film. The film version would obviously end up with a direct grudge against Agent 47 based on these events in any future sequels.
Positives? World building
One of the things I think I enjoyed about the film is I felt like the world it was in worked. Even with the bouts of movie logic, I didn’t question that a super agent idea wasn’t working and that some sort of agency with large amount of funds would try to create more people to be super soldiers.
Visually too it was generally decent, some naff CGI aside, which also made good use of it’s shooting locations in Germany and Singapore which again helped sell the world the film exists in.
Lessons learned? Storytelling
The world of Hitman seems exceptionally ripe to tackle, and for all the complaining I may have made there is some decent stuff the movie touches on - it just often ends up being under cooked or poorly told, be it in story or edit. There is a key reminder here for all films to remember the basics of good storytelling and not always have to go with expectations or spoon feed the audiences narrative voice over at the start of your film.
Hitman: Agent 47 may have failed to take down it’s target, but it wasn’t too far off the mark had the people in charged focused their talents. Maybe there is always the next film reboot?
Next time - We shoot dodge our way towards another dual pistol holding main character moved to the big screen... hope you have your Pa(yne)killers.
About ‘Game Over: Failure of the Video Game Feature Film’
A series looking at the top 20 profitable video game feature films to figure out what is lacking and what should be done to make a successful adaption of game to film. There are a set of rules to stick by, so for an introduction on the whole series I’m doing please check out the original post located right here.
Movie fanatic, writer and publisher of numerous gaming and movie websites of the past, and former video game guide writer. Started making content in 1997 and ran or assisted with several successful sites, mostly in the realm of Horror and Survival Horror gaming through the early and mid 2000's. Includes sites such as ResidentEvilFan.com, Streets of Silent Hill, EvilGaming.net, SurvivalHorror.org, ShenmueDojo.com, VGN, Gamers Alliance, GamersLounge.com, and BHXnet/BIOHAZARDextreme among others. Usually under the name Rombie. Still occasionally appears around on old video game and Resident Evil forums and semi-frequently appears on the ProjectUmbrella.net Resident Evil podcast.
All images copyright to respective studio/photography owners. Used under fair use for critical comment on video game feature films only.