Movie review: ‘Hitman: Agent 47’ lacking in originality

Ed Symkus More Content Now
In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Rupert Friend appears in a scene from, "Hitman: Agent 47."

A government agency has developed a secret program that produces “super” people, folks who can do things better than anyone else, especially fighting and killing. But something goes wrong with the program, it’s shut down, and years later, someone else starts it up again. Then things really go wrong. No, this isn’t a review of the new film “American Ultra.” This is about “Hitman: Agent 47,” which is based on a video game, and is a remake (reboot) of the 2007 film “Hitman.” It’s a violent, action-filled thriller. “American Ultra” is a violent, action-filled comedy. Although there are a few variations, both movies have THE SAME PLOT and are opening on THE SAME DAY. What is Hollywood thinking?

Let’s stick with the thriller.

A lengthy narrated introduction explains that the Agent program was started in 1967, with the idea of creating the perfect killing machine. The film’s first explosion happens about two minutes in. Its first bullet-to-the-head-of-a-speeding-driver is about a minute later.

But we need some characters. Say hello to the cool, calm, vicious, bald, ambidextrous bad guy, who you’ll come to know as “Agent 47” (Rupert Friend). You’ll realize right away that he’s extremely athletic and is a very good shot, though you’ll probably start to wonder about his inherent goodness or badness. But the film doesn’t give you much time to ponder him, because there’s also Katia (Hannah Ware), who’s on a personal search for some mystery man, and is at the same time being hunted down by 47. But a stranger named John Smith – oh, come on … really? – (Zachary Quinto) shows up, announces that he’s been assigned to protect her, then does so, with guns a-blazing, from the relentless pursuit by 47.

The pace of the film is of the non-stop variety, but time is always made to let the viewer think, “Hold on, who exactly IS this person, and what is his (or her) modus operandi?” That can be thought of all three main characters. The constant chasing, catching, eluding, escaping that goes on is accompanied by a wake of bodies dropping left and right and is told through a series of fluid, elegant, stylized visuals.

This starts out as the stories of Katia (we see murky flashes of her troubled past) and of 47 (an emotionless enigma), moves into letting out some (but not much) information about John Smith, then settles into telling about that mystery man Katia has been looking for, eventually revealing his identity and how he had something to do with “enhancing” Katia’s survival instincts.

Before the film reaches its pretty crazy couple of endings, it goes through a wide range of ingredients that will excite and please some viewers, but make others howl with derision. There are brief bits of humor mixed in with the mayhem (thankfully no clichéd one-liners), the introduction of freelance killers along with the malevolent members of “The Syndicate” (called “The Organization” in the original), philosophical questions such as “if you’re programmed to kill, are you still capable of free will?,” and a few blatant borrowings from “The Terminator,” including a not very subtle modification of the iconic line “Come with me if you want to live.”

But even with its flaws, it’s hard to fault a film that comes up with the concept of subdermal titanium body armor. Or is that just another piece of “The Terminator”?


Written by Skip Woods and Michael Finch; directed by Aleksander Bach

With Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds

Rated R

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.