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Hitman: Agent 47 (2 stars)

Lazy reboot with Rupert Friend as the genetically engineered killing machine

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Hitman: Agent 47

Buffed free of personality, this assembly-line actioner is a reboot of the lucrative, critically derided 2007 film (simply titled Hitman), which was itself the spawn of the popular video game. With derivative the key word and a tone as stolid and savage as its source material, it's a forgettable effort directed by first-timer Aleksander Bach (a man with nowt new to add apparently) and starring Homeland's Rupert Friend as the eponymous antihero.

Hannah Ware plays Katia, estranged daughter of scientist Dr Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds), who's credited with the creation of genetically engineered assassins, known as agents. She's being hunted by the shady Syndicate International, who are looking to restart her father's programme and whose gleaming white surroundings show them to have taken the paperless office to farcical extremes. With a flair for survival – including psychic prowess which allows her to sense incoming danger – Katia is pursued by both ambiguous operative John Smith (Zachary Quinto) and the showily formidable Agent 47 (Friend, sporting the iconic red tie, grey suit and bald pate).

As insultingly cursory as the original, the film suffers from a fractured, sense-shorn narrative that makes huge leaps in logic and almost no attempt to address the complexities and controversies of its genetics storyline. The plot resembles the recent Man from U.N.C.L.E., yet that had a sprinkling of charm, alongside a goofy, likeable heroine. Ware might be able to pout with the best of them but her weak, wavering delivery (from cut-glass to estuary in the space of a sentence) means she lacks authority, even as Katia grows in skill and stature. The female Bourne she ain't, comparing poorly to both Angelina Jolie's various action heroine incarnations and to Fiona O'Shaughnessy in TV's Utopia, who invested a similar role with a great deal of character.

The stilted, cliché-ridden exchanges are, at best, unintentionally funny – which at least makes up for the humourlessness elsewhere. There's the occasional imaginative kill to satisfy your inner psycho; and, although he's hardly stretched, the menacing Friend makes a far better fist of Agent 47 than his predecessor Timothy Olyphant who, robbed of his easy charm, was just plain bland. Beyond that there's little to recommend here, or to differentiate Bach's debut from the countless comparable efforts that have gone before. However, if you prefer your violence mindless (and your plotting likewise), then you'll get your fill in a film that's also fast, short and shiny.

General release from Thu 27 Aug.

Hitman: Agent 47

  • 2 stars
  • 2015
  • 96 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Aleksander Bach
  • Cast: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto

Katia (Ware) is the estranged daughter of a scientist (Hinds) who's credited with the creation of genetically engineered assassins, and now she's being hunted by one, Agent 47 (Friend). Derivative reboot of an already forgettable franchise; Friend is efficient, but Ware lacks authority, the story makes no sense and it's…

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