There is so much exposition at the open of HITMAN: AGENT 47 that for a moment I worried that I had somehow missed out on the original 46 parts and they were trying to sum it up. What’s worse is the exposition is completely unnecessary because throughout the movie every character keeps explaining to every other character who every character is and what their history is with every one else. Not that it’s that complicated, it’s just the filmmakers seemed to have no trust whatsoever that the audience could follow the film.

You may be picking up at this point that this is not a great film. It’s not. Yet it’s not nearly as terrible as I thought it might be. The story itself, which is basically an amped up version of The Bourne Identity, works (for the most part). Our heroine is basically a sleeper killer soldier who doesn’t know her own powers until she becomes the target of two different groups who want her connection to her father, who designed the killer soldier program. Agent 47, played by Rupert Friend, is an emotionless assassin, and at first, the audience doesn’t know whether he is a good guy or a bad guy. Actually, that’s true through the whole film. As a character, Agent 47 is about as dull as they come. The basic building blocks of this script require him to not do much to engender the audience’s good will. He doesn’t even have a dry sense of humor, which might be believable. It’s not Friend’s fault, he does the best with what he is given.

His target, Katia (Hannah Ware), has a little more to play with, but the frenetic pace of the bang-bang plot allows little time for character growth – which is a shame because Katia finds out so much about herself over the course of this film. Most of this, unfortunately, she is told directly (back to the exposition issue) so she only hears about it, rather than discovering it. I can imagine a film told entirely from her perspective, where she is uncovering details herself that could have been really fascinating, and full of lots of great character work, but this is not that movie.

So what is working in HITMAN: AGENT 47? Well, not surprisingly, the action sequences.  They are fantastic. But nothing we haven’t seen before (right after I saw this I saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which handles action in an entirely fresh way, cutting up and montaging sequences that would be showpieces in another film and getting to the character and one on one combat stuff). Things blow up, cars drive fast, people die. Check, check and check. It’s all there, but without any human element of story to pin everything on, its more like watching someone else play a video game than film.

In general, Hitman: Agent 47 is a forgettable action flick that requires no knowledge of the video game series or the original Timothy Olyphant starring flick to understand, nor creates any desire to seek out either after. The film is held back by a pedestrian plot that is told in the least effective way, and characters that are given little opportunity to do anything of interest on screen. One thing though, the skyscrapers and garden walkway seen in the Singapore location are so amazing looking, I had to find pictures of them online to make sure they weren’t CGI creations. Wow. So yes, top prize on this film goes to the location scout.

HTMAN: AGENT 47 is in theaters now.

Bears Fonte covers indie film for AMFM Magazine and programs and consults for film festivals nationwide.  He is the Founder and Executive Director of Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival as well as the former Director of Programming for Austin Film Festival.  His short The Secret Keeper played at 40 festivals, his feature iCrime was released in 2011 by Vicious Circle.

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