Belfast Telegraph

Hitman: Agent 47 - Lifeless action romp fails to fire

By Staff Reporter

Based on the Hitman games, Aleksander Bach's action thriller hopes to atone for the sins of a 2007 version headlining Timothy Olyphant. Unfortunately, a new lick of paint can't disguise the same fatal flaw. Like so many adaptations of video games, Hitman: Agent 47 fails to replicate the thrill of assuming control of an iconic character.

Bach evidently loves the games, and he orchestrates action set pieces, punctuated by slow motion acrobatics and explosions. A bout of hand-to-hand combat on the tracks of the Berlin underground and a high-speed pursuit in a multi-storey car park, are high points. But once the bullets have all been discharged, the film offers little in the way of characterisation.

The protagonist is a genetically engineered assassin called Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), who carries out high-profile contracts assigned to him by his handler, Diana (Angelababy). Diana orders 47 to hunt down and kill Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), mastermind of the program that created the assassin. A huge corporation called Syndicate International, fronted by Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) is also looking for Litvenko and intends to use his research to create an unstoppable army of killers.

The only way to flush the scientist out of hiding is by using his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) as bait. Agent 47 tracks her to Berlin, where battle ensues between the hitman and her protector, John Smith (Zachary Quinto).

Hitman: Agent 47 is a tiny improvement on the 2007 film. Friend is suitably lifeless, expertly performing fight choreography including a couple of bruising showdowns with Quinto. Ware is equally bland, yet considerably more emotional. Kretschmann doesn't have sufficient screen time to put meat on the bones of his lacklustre villain, who swipes angrily at a touchscreen desk as his masterplan falls apart. Bach's film obligingly follows suit.

Three stars

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