I Saw Hitman: Agent 47, And It Was Fine

I Saw Hitman: Agent 47, and It Was Fine

Nobody likes Hitman: Agent 47. It's one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, and it's not making much at the box office. But I saw the thing Friday night anyway, and I liked it.

Video game movies exist in a weird place. They're 90-to-120-minute adaptations of games that are probably like 15 or more hours so they're inherently at a disadvantage there, and the prevailing wisdom today is that video game movies are always bad so they have that going against them as well. Video game movies aren't actually that bad, though.

This Hitman movie, for example, is a fairly standard example of what I'd call European trash action. Like The Transporter or Banlieue 13 or Taken. Paper-thin plot that's just an excuse for a bevy of over-the-top and very stylish and creative action. While Agent 47 may not be a great adaptation of the game series, it is nonetheless a pretty enjoyable action flick. Not the nadir of cinema, and not something anyone will remember comes awards season, but it's a good time and that's all it's really aspiring to be.

I think the issues people have with game movies is mostly about perception. Gamers, I think, tend to have somewhat of an inflated view of the quality of storytelling in games, and everybody else goes hard in the opposite direction. Even as somebody who plays more games than even most hardcore gamers it's not difficult to understand why that is.

We talk about this "Citizen Kane of games" idea, and to anybody on the outside this is going to inherently appear ridiculous. Probably the most recent game that folks used that term for a bunch was The Last of Us — a zombie game! In a purely abstract sense, that's pretty funny, and that's where the disconnect between us and everybody else lies. Zombies stories just are not going to seem important or prestigious to regular folks.

Story-driven video games, particularly the most well known ones, are usually very nerdy genre stuff. We know that very nerdy genre stuff can be great, but that's not what wins Oscars 99 per cent of the time. B-level concepts such as zombies and monsters and aliens (and actiony things in general) are just not held as prestigious even while they can have plenty of mass appeal.

So when you have Hollywood folks tackling nerdy genre game stories, they're specifically handling that subject matter the same way they would any with any other nerdy genre property with a fanbase of marginal size (it's not a stretch to say that far more people have watched a Resident Evil movie than have played a Resident Evil game, by the way). It's not disrespect. They just see it differently.

In having to distill lengthy game concepts down to a 90-minute movie, they may even see it better than we do. In Hitman: Agent 47, Zachary Quinto's character has "subdermal titanium body armour," literally liquid titanium injected under his skin that makes him impervious to most injuries. It sounds hilarious (and awesome) when you're watching actual humans explain it but, hey, that's certainly a very video games thing. Something to think about, eh.

Hit me - @philrowen


Comments

    The problem is movie makers forget that hitman games aren't action games (unless you suck at them) as much as they are puzzle games(when played right) but who wants to watch a two hour movie about a bald guy changing clothes and waiting around for everyone to look away??

      Like a Metal Gear movie where its 2 hours of a guy with the most advanced weapons and tactics trying to not kill any one, or be spotted. And you know 60 minutes is going to have his spandex covered ass filling half the screen while you crawl everywhere.
      Who doesnt want to see that?
      Though in fairness MG has 3 movies worth of cut scenes anyway.

    Saw it Saturday night. Was fairly disappointed tho I wasn't really expecting much. My two gripes are the casting and the story.
    First, the guy who played 47 was a terrible choice and the person in charge of wardrobe should be ashamed. Many times it looked like he was wearing his dads suit. His head was an odd shape, and not cleanly shaven. He was also too young and didn't convey authority or fear at all. I have always thought of 47 as a towering 6 foot giant in his mid 40's, gravely voice full of experience.
    And the story, I noticed they had taken bits of the absolution plot and made the female older. didn't quite work for me... Wait to DVD! or other viewing means.

      I disagree.

      I think the casting worked a lot better this time around. As stated elsewhere; Rupert Friend isn't the problem, he did a rather fine job with what he was given.

      The film certainly isn't an A-grade experience, but after the shambles that was the first film Fox produced, this was more fun to watch. The real problem is Skip Woods, the screenwriter. He writes some truly convoluted stuff which has ruined many movies.

    Haha - District 13 is a much better film and has some amazing parkour.

    Last edited 24/08/15 11:11 am

    Considering the last movie I saw was Fantastic 4, I thought Hitman was fantastic :P

      I haven't actually seen Hitman yet (was planning to sometime this week) but was thinking the same thing - can't be worse than Fantastic Four. The trailer alone had more action in it than FF did.

    I watched it courtesy of Xbox and it was ok, nothing amazing but quite good fun.

    Hitman would have been better as a 'Criminal Minds' type of affair. Stay with me here.

    Rather than focusing on Agent 47, instead focus around the police trying to piece together who the person is. We see very little of Agent 47, we only see the aftermath of his successful hits. We don't get characterisation of Agent 47, he simply exists to hit his targets and the authorities simply can't stop him. The film doesn't end with a big battle, it simply ends when the case goes cold and the bodies stop. It's up to the viewer to make the decision of Agent 47 is good or not.

      that would work.........they could even have different versions of the same murder as different witnesses think different people are the murderer...........though those who play the game would know its just 47 doing his quick change routine....

      Last edited 24/08/15 1:06 pm

      Similar to the recent Greg Rucka Punisher run of comics. Frank Castle was more of a side character, as it followed set characters like a couple of policemen as they deal with his aftermath(s). I absolutely loved it, easily my favourite Punisher run of all.

      Go straight to Hollywood - do not pass go, do not collect $200 - that is seriously brilliant

      Would make for a good, True Dectective-esque TV show (rather than a movie) like that I think.

    I saw this on Friday and was quite disappointed. 47's powers are so 'super' this movie that for me felt like a comic book origin movie.

    Why are we taking reviews as fact? Why are people not educating themselves on the media they consume so people understand the difference between depiction and endorsement? Why are we actually listening to people who think a qualitative assessment of a film is counting how many plot holes they think they've found? Why are you even attempting to talk to people who already think they know enough about the complex process of film-making to make an accurate judgement of its narrative value as opposed to stating a preference? Why is it that people are so resistant to actually learning about the things they want to dissect? Why do we even defend this? Wouldn't it totally help us - both socially and culturally - to give the people who want to criticise so much, the tools to actually do it at even a basic level? Or at least inform them of the distinction between stating a preference and arguing a factually incorrect point due to ignorant/uninformed/uneducated perception - especially when media is becoming such a focal point of discussion over a number of issues?

    As soon as anything is released, information comes out or a socially significant event occurs, we almost immediately rush to accept the most readily available narrative to define it to ourselves and never hold the critical lens to our own perspective, isn't this, like totally a problem everywhere? Just learn something, IT'S NOT THAT HARD.

      Holy shit! Wow. So smart! Wow!

      Ummm. I don't know?

      How would we give people the tools to criticise art at a basic level?

      You have blown my mind. I've never thought about it this way, and we live in a culture where many review every meal they eat at a restaurant.

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    It was a stinking pile of forgettable intangible crap. Even disregarding the source material it failed to stand on its own. It relied heavily on a mcguffin, which showed up repeatedly... but only when needed, it tried to make us feel things for/against boring characters and there is no interesting climax, just a wasted bunch of scenes that felt like a low db fart winding down. All round I think I prefered the last one.

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