Neither stealth nor shoot-'em-all, this adaptation makes less sense than the easy-mode gameplay of the first Hitman game that was released 15 years ago
(WARNING: This review contains spoilers. If you mind, just skip to the summary section.)
As a long-time fan of the video game, it's absolutely disappointing to see how bad they could screw this up again. After the horrible 2007 adaptation, one would've expected 20th Century Fox to come to their senses and hire people who actually knows and loves the game to write and direct this reboot. But no, they shamelessly rehired the same screenwriter Skip Woods (Die Hard 5, The A-Team 2010, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as also the co-producer, paired him up with co-writer Michael Finch (The November Man, Predators 2010), and got Aleksander Bach as the director, who has only done commercials in his career. This is like a huge middle-finger to the fans like myself.
The film wastes no time with exposition as it immediately starts with a prologue briefly explaining that lead scientist Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), his wife and daughter have escaped from the facility of the Agent Program, a genetics engineering experiment that could give humans greater speed, strength, stamina and intelligence, and without Dr. Litvenko, the Program was shut down and the efforts to revive it have been failures, which makes him a precious target to The Syndicate International, obviously the antagonising criminal organisation of the film. In order to find out where he is, a not-so-secret assassin in suit named 47 (Rupert Friend) and John Smith/Brian (Zachary Quinto) are each sent by competing organisations respectively to get to Dr. Litvenko's surviving daughter Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware), who hasn't seen her father since they were separated when she was very young during the escape.
I'm not sure why a female protagonist is required again like in the 2007 film but they made it even worse this time by giving her psychic-like ability and cringeworthy acrobatic skills. That's not all, it is later revealed that Agents are named after their versions and Katia van Dees' name actually means "90" in some other language. What kind of father is Dr. Litvenko? And we're supposed to feel invested to these "nice" characters? Not to mention how Agent 47 wounds Katia to "mark" her for no real reason and swaps his knife for an asthmatic kid's inhaler. The script is disastrous. Instead of entering the titular character from when he was being trained like in the first game, the narratives of film follows Katia whom the cold and expressionless Agent 47 will kidnap, protect and guide her to unleash her abilities. At this point, I thought to myself, a Terminator ripoff would've probably been less insulting than this.
Perhaps the only right thing that they did right was casting Rupert Friend (Starred Up, Homeland TV series). Well, even that wasn't their original plan as the late Paul Walker was their first choice to play the role until his tragic death. Friend's cool, cold and yet able to provide subtle expressions. He is the only redeeming quality of this awful film and could've been a perfect Agent 47 if it wasn't because of the ridiculous script which gives him zero character development and made him this indestructible assassin who can use two handguns and shoot down an army in a wide open space instead of accomplishing his mission with his stealth and silent-killing skills like how players are supposed to in the games. He has bigger guns, but somehow he just doesn't use them often. This makes John Woo flicks starring Chow Yun Fatt seem way more realistic.
The video games gave players the experience and extremely fun and thrilling challenges of being a professional assassin, but the film offers little to none of that. The Hitman here only has one mission to accomplish, and it isn't revealed until the very end, so there's no way for the audience to relate. Even the iconic fibre wire that's used in the game for silent kills isn't given justice. In action scenes, Agent 47 and Katia are mostly just posers, standing around blasting their handguns. All of the action sequences are either over the top or just plain boring with no respectable choreography or even a single believable sequence. Let's not even talk about logic. I don't remember seeing any sign of the police despite the chaos that's happening in the public. Stole an eye-catching red Audi car for your stealth objectives? No problem, use it for a couple of days. No one would come looking. Are they fucking making a blatant Audi commercial or what?
While already being bored and angry, I was hoping for Hong Kong model Angelababy to appear more often as an eye candy, but she plays Diana Burnwood, a character that almost never appears in the game. I believe the only reason why they would cast an Asian for this obviously Caucasian role is to tap into the Chinese market. Right before the closing credits roll, Agent 48 appears without stealth to face the protagonists. He looks exactly like Agent 47 but unlike the game, the film never said anything about cloning. Even the 2007 film isn't as messy and disastrous as this one. It fails not only as an adaptation of the video game, but as a generic action thriller as well. A piece of advice to whoever that's interested in making another Hitman film, please play the game first for fucks sake!
What I would've named the film: "Skip Woods Franchise Destroyer IV: Hitman Again"
Malaysia censorship: There are some bloody violence and numerous F-bombs but none of that were cut at the press screening. Since this is rated '18', I doubt anything should be censored anyway.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, who doesn't know anything about the game or the first adaptation, felt that the two main characters are cool and cute together, but have anything else good to say about the movie.
Verdict: Without question, this is one of the worst video game adaptations of all time.
Rating: 1 / 5
Based on: IO Interactive's "Hitman" games
Genre: Action thriller
Running Time: 98 minutes
Director: Aleksander Bach
Screenwriters: Skip Woods, Michael Finch
Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciarán Hinds
Malaysia Release Date: 20 August 2015
Local Distributor: 20th Century Fox Malaysia
Production: Fox International Productions, Infinite Frameworks Studios
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