Hitman: Agent 47
Science has done a lot of good in our lives. But at the movies, you'd never know it.
You see, back in the late 1960s a scientist named Dr. Litvenko created a special government program. That's code, of course, for the horrific manipulation of all that is natural and good. It was something of a genetic engineering experiment, an attempt at stripping child subjects of fear, remorse and compassion. The thought was that these common traits—these human frailties, if you will—were the things that kept soldiers from being all they could be on the battlefield.
Litvenko's work was more successful than even he imagined. It gave birth to what amounted to perfect killers: people with uncanny strength and skill, unhampered by any emotion that might deter them from fully following through.
For all of Litvenko's desire to further science, however, it didn't take him long to realize the danger and folly of his own actions. This was no longer simply theoretical test tube juggling and calculus on a sheet of paper. These were lives he was manipulating. These were children being designed, programmed and stamped with a barcode. So he shuttered the program, scattered his test subjects and disappeared.
Skip ahead some 40 years and Litvenko is now the focus of a massive manhunt. A secretive organization called the Syndicate wants to restart that disbanded agent-assassin effort. And they send their own version of a souped-up slayer to grab Litvenko's estranged daughter, Katia, a young woman plagued by fractured and painful childhood memories. She's been trying to track down her long-missing father, too. And she's getting closer to finding him with every passing day, with every new discovered clue.
There's one more person in this messy mix: a flesh-and-muscle roadblock standing between all searchers and the good doctor. He's a former test subject of Letvenko's named 47, a dark-eyed, hard-bodied bald man in a neatly pressed black suit who can blend with any crowd, avoid any camera, slip through any area. He's an experiment that's all grown up now, extremely seasoned, cold-blooded and methodical. And he's set on stopping the Syndicate from reinstating Letvenko's program, no matter what it takes.
Even if that means killing … everyone.
We learn that 47 is being given kill orders from another secretive organization. And it's through Katia's prompting—stating that we all have the ability to "determine who we are by what we do"—that he, for the first time, asserts his own will and chooses not to kill someone he's been ordered to assassinate. Katia triggers an alarm to help a woman who is being physically abused in a nearby building.
We see Katia in several states of gratuitous undress. Her bare back, hip and thigh are exposed while she showers. The camera ogles her backside as she wears nothing but a skimpy pair of panties in a hotel pool. And at one point it's apparent that she's braless beneath a thin tank top.
Note that all of the wall spattering and backbone snapping here is portrayed with a liquid-smooth dance-like grace, giving assassination a sense of appealing "coolness." Sort of like a hard-core video game, you might say.
Within that context, many, many, many, many heads, necks and torsos are perforated and pulverized with pointblank gunshots or hacking blades of various sizes. Men are incinerated in explosions and strangled with a wire garrote. People are thrown from great heights to thump and crack on banisters, staircases and stone floors below. Necks are snapped, throats bashed and bones broken. Folks fly into concrete pylons and are ground into mulch by turbine engines and factory machinery. Two helicopters blow up and crash in flames.
In all cases, a gory mess spreads across the surface of the atrocities.
Somebody gets "enhanced" by the Syndicate with a subdermal titanium body armor, after which we see him shot repeatedly in the chest and legs, stabbed, garroted and electrocuted. Dr. Litvenko is shot in the leg and tortured with a drug injection.
Crude or Profane Language
Close to a dozen f-words and half a dozen s-words. God's and Jesus' names are each misused a time or two; God's is combined with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Katia steals and uses other people's prescription drugs to dull her senses enough for sleep. Dr. Litvenko is injected with a drug that causes him to convulse and thrash around.
Other Negative Elements
47 steals several cars, including a police cruiser. He also swipes a young boy's inhaler and, oddly, leaves the preteen a knife in exchange. While avoiding authorities, Katia purchases a fake passport.
Hitman: Agent 47 gave me a case of moviegoing déjà vu. And that's not just because there's a popular sneak-and-kill video game franchise of the same name, or the fact that there was already a first belly flopping, killer-idolizing attempt at turning that game series into a grindhouse cinema attraction.
More than all that, my sense of been-there-done-that comes from the fact that nearly every scene of this stylized fight flick feels plucked out of some other fast-paced actioner. There's the motorcyclist-mulching Transporter-like car chases and the Bourne-ish bloody beatdowns and the slo-mo stretches of Terminator-esque robotic annihilation.
And there have been so many pics of that stripe to pluck from, haven't there?
Pack that parade of pitiless pummeling into a Swiss cheese slice of a plotline and 47 ends up feeling like little more than a one-dimensional 90-minute ballet of splattering violence and foul language in which nothing makes much sense if you pause long enough to actually think beyond the killer choreography.
But that's where our programming comes into play, isn't it? Are any of us planning on doing a lot of critical thinking while we sit soaking up this spewing supersoldier shoot-'em-up? Are we stopping to think before buying a ticket to see this slick mess?
Hopefully those questions feel like déjà vu to you as well by now.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Rupert Friend as Agent 47; Hannah Ware as Katia; Zachary Quinto as John Smith; Ciarán Hinds as Litvenko; Thomas Kretschmann as Le Clerq
Aleksander Bach ( )
20th Century Fox
August 21, 2015
December 29, 2015