Director: Aleksander Bach
Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto and Ciarán Hinds
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: August 28th
This represents Hollywood’s 29th attempt (we counted) at making a good movie out of a good video game, so really the law of averages should’ve kicked in by now. Historically, the best reviewed “Based On A Video Game” movie is 1995’s Mortal Kombat, a movie that’s only good because it doesn’t seem to realise how bad it actually is. Eight years ago, cinema tried it’s hand at a Hitman adaptation with Timothy Olyphant and Olga Kurylenko and a talented European director, all of whom were hobbled by a terrible script. This time, there’s a lesser known actor (Rupert Friend) and a borderline completely unknown actress (Hannah Ware) and a completely untested European director, all of whom are hobbled by a terrible script… from the same writer as the original Hitman movie. Well played, Hollywood.
There’s no point in anyone complaining about video games movies all being crap when they’re not given a chance to begin with. A story about genetically modified assassins shouldn’t be THAT hard to get right, but somehow debut director Aleksander Bach has found a way to fudge it up. While he can’t be blamed for screenwriter Skip Woods dodgy plotting and dialogue, even the action scenes aren’t well handled thanks to the manic-ADD camerawork and crappy CGI. The endlessly bland shoot-outs consist of all the henchmen having worse aims than most Stormtroopers, while the slower scenes involve Friend clenching his jaw and Ware constantly crying and that’s about it.
The plot to the actual video-games had more depth than this, and crucially their most entertaining aspect – the hugely entertaining and original assassinations – have been dropped from the movie. Instead we’re given a low-level Luc Besson story mixed with some less-than-subtle inspiration from the first two Terminator movies. There’s psychic powers and father issues and subdermal metallic skin and somehow Zachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds and Thomas Kretschmann are involved. There’s a plot-twist that isn’t so much a plot-twist as it is the only conceivable place for the plot to go to. Everything that happens in the story, from conversations about passports to a street shoot-out with zip-lines, involves characters knowing information they would have no conceivable way of knowing. Every scene finds the plot backed into impossible corners, only for the film to shrug its way out of them. All of this and the people involved can’t even be bothered to inject a Mortal Kombat level of fun. Everything is so po-faced and serious, attempting a Bourne-like tone but without the director, actor or writer prowess to pull it off.
It certainly doesn’t help that The Transporter Refueled – an ACTUAL low-level Luc Besson story about a man with no hair and in a suit and who can be hired to do dangerous things – is out in just a few weeks, and Hitman: Agent 47 certainly doesn’t help the video-games to movies argument. Duncan Jones and his Warcraft next June will hopefully be the one to break the tide. In the meantime, this deserves a bullet in the back of the head, putting it and all of us out of its misery.