Hitman: Agent 47 review - Beautifully executed?

Imagine there is a genitically enhanced man, who is stronger, deadlier and more intelligent than others. He is the result of a secret science program, creating the ultimate assassin. Then there is a secret society called Syndicate, which tries to seize the genetic technology with all means, to form an army of genetically engineered soldiers. The key for this is inside the head of the the former project lead, who can only be found with the help of his daughter, who is genitically enhanced, as well, but does not know it.

You think this might be the plot of a super hero movie or a comic adaptation?  You are miles out, since 20th Century Fox wants us to believe that this is the second movie adaptation of the Hitman video game series.

So we are not experiencing how Agent 47 gets his target by careful observation, patience, precise attacks or with his superior intelligence. Instead of this there are shootings, fistfights, explosions, car chases and countless enemies being thrown at the bald assassin like confetti and who go to the ground just as quickly. Agent 47 finishes most of the enemy hordes in a frontal attack.

Instead of a movie conceived as a thriller, where you share the thrill with the protagonist, we get served with an action flick. If you have watched the previous movie trailers, you already know what you are getting.

But does Hitman: Agent 47 contain nothing from the games? Parts of the otherwise more simple kept story contains moments, you wont understand at first, but explain themselves because of 47’s ahead planning at a later date. Here the gameplay of the Hitman series shines a bit through.

Other elements feel like a part of a visual checklist, which just get checked off: Agent 47 gets a briefing by Diana, his equipment has the Hitman logo on it, the Silverballers are always ready, as well as the fibre wire, disguises and provoked accidents are there, too. You can even spot the rubber duck and toaster in a bathtub. Sadly, all charatericstics from the game get pushed aside by the forefront action.

Homeland-star Rupert Friend plays Agent 47 and he does his job as well as the script allows him. He could really be a younger variant of the game’s protagonist. Director Alexander Bach says the movie is all about showing his human side. At the beginning, Agent 47 has to kill Katja van Dees (Hanna Ware), but when he realizes that she is just like him, he decides to help her stopping the Syndicate.


The more quiet scenes in the first half until a bit after the middle are the strongest ones, because here you can see a smack of chemistry between the two protagonists. One example for such moments is Agent 47 showing some of his tricks to Katia.

Sadly, the horrible script is castrating every further depth between the two characters, while others remain totally underdeveloped. Zachary Quinto plays John Smith, who works for the Syndicate and has to gain Katias trust and wants to stop 47. Equipped with a subdermal titan shield he is somehow presented as Agent 47’s nemesis. His motives and personal story remain in the dark and that makes him nothing more than a marionette of Le Clerk, the boss of the Syndicate. With Thomas Kretschmann a German once again was chosen as the biggest villain, but for the major part of the movie he just yells oneliners as orders and never gets interesting.

The script and the at times horrible dialogues lead to an uncertain personality of the movie. Hitman: Agent 47 is often unwillingly funny, when it wants to be sincere and not witty, when it pretends to be funny.


The action scenes though are solid and entertaining. Besides just a few exceptions, Rupert Friend did all of the stunts by himself and especially the martial arts segments are really well executed. Other moments, which include special effects, are significantly weaker, but understandable considering the estimated movie budget of 40 milion dollar.

Hitman: Agent 47 has a unique visual style to it, thanks to director Alexander Bach. Bach celebrates his debut on the big screen with this movie and worked primarily on advertising films and music videos before. The movie plays a lot with contrasts and in terms of locations the somehow old and shabby appearing autumn Berlin meets the tropical, colorful and modern Singapore. Agent 47 wears a black suit, his nemesis Smith a white one.

Marco Beltrami, the composer who worked on movies such as I, Robot, Terminator 3 and Die Hard, contributed the soundtrack of Hitman: Agent 47. Unfortunately nothing apart from the main theme is memorable, with the result that the music plods along in the background. Once more we are wishing back the compositions of Jesper Kyd, who’s home are movies and who accompanied the Hitman game series for a long time.


Nothing protects the audience from the horrendous showdown at the end of the movie. What starts as an interesting plan by 47, ends with another orgy of fists and bullets. Another big antagonist gets thrown in the mix, just to face an early ending.

If you remain seated during the end credits, trying to realize what just happened, you can watch another short cliffhanger scene, teasing a possible sequel of the movie.

About the Author

André Mackowiak