Aleksander Bach’s (presumably no relation to the late composer) Hitman: Agent 47 is one of those movies that is at its best when it’s at its worst. Almost completely worthless on any normal scale of values — you know, like marginal coherence — Hitman works pretty well as unintentional amusement whenever it goes completely insane. Unfortunately, it’s mostly just inane, and that’s not much fun. Oh, it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It may not even be the worst movie that came out this week. This does not change the fact that I can’t imagine any good reason to see Hitman.
Now, I’ve never seen the 2007 Hitman — based on the same video game that I’ve never played — but I can assure you that seeing the earlier film is clearly not a requirement for seeing this. (Being easily amused is the major necessity.) The plot could be inscribed on the head of a pin with room left over for “The Lord’s Prayer” and half-a-dozen angels dancing the “Charleston.” Following an explanatory introduction about these artificially created agents — part of a discontinued (aren’t they always?) program to create a gang of super agents, we find that the title character (played — if that is the word — by Rupert Friend) is out to get or maybe protect Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware), whose missing father (Ciarán Hinds) created the program. Why? Well, that’s barely explained and has become irrelevant by the end. That’s pretty much the plot, apart from complications, which include a duplicitous Zachary Quinto who becomes a kind of Hugo-Weaving-in-The-Matrix knock-off (he’s even named Smith), and one of those super powerful evil-genius types (Thomas Kretschmann) that we’ve had at least since Fritz Lang’s Spies in 1928.
Of course, plot isn’t the focus of a movie like this. It’s merely an excuse for action scenes. That might work — see The Raid (2012) — if the action scenes are clever or engaging or well-staged. That’s not the case here. The action is rarely coherent and only scores points when it induces the viewer to burst out laughing — and these are too few, as already noted. There is one intentional (I think) laugh, but, in a film like this, we’re mostly looking for unintended mirth. While the action and the dodgy CGI sometimes delivers this, it’s often found in the film’s complete disregard for any kind of logic — and frequent spells of “What the hell?” contrivances.
Why, for example, is there a jet engine hanging in that building early on? At what point — and how — does that child’s asthma inhaler turn into a bomb? (I have four inhalers and none of them have ever done anything so spectacular, which is probably a good thing.) And I’d swear that one character takes a bullet saving Katia, but seems to suffer no ill effects of any kind. For that matter, this business of the bar-code tattooed on the backs of these genetically-engineered agents’ necks (“They’re giving you a bar-code and taking away your name,” I guess) serves no discernible function. I like this sort of thing in a bad movie. And make no mistake, this is a bad movie, even if not the worst you’ve sat through. Rated R for sequences of strong violence, and some language.