Hitman: Agent 47, the reboot of the action series based on the popular Hitman video game, is great -- as an Audi commercial. The sporty, high-end cars are featured prominently throughout the movie, especially in two key car chases. It's product placement at its finest. But as an involving, high-octane thriller, the film quickly stalls out and never quite revs to life.
Rupert Friend (so good in Showtime's Homeland) stars as Agent 47, a genetically engineered killing machine programmed from conception to feel no pain, no love, no emotion, no remorse. He follows orders to assassinate anyone he is assigned to terminate. He's a human without humanity, who possesses extraordinary strength, speed, stamina, and intelligence. He is also pretty much indestructible -- and a snappy dresser. Donning a slick black suit, crisp white shirt and blood-red tie, 47 -- his name comes from the last two digits on a bar code tattooed on the back of his head -- methodically goes about slaughtering anyone who stands in his way. And a lot of people stand in his way, but not for long as they are shot, stabbed, garroted, blown up, electrocuted, or sucked into the spinning blades of a massive turbine engine. All of this mayhem occurs when 47 tries to track down a young woman named Katia (Hannah Ware), the daughter of the scientist who launched the program that engineered 47 and the 46 other natural born killers created before him. The program was eventually shut down and 47 is, presumably, the only surviving agent. But a shadowy mega-corporation plans to resurrect the program and create an army of assassins with powers that surpass 47's abilities. They only need one thing: Katia's father (Ciarán Hinds), who is in hiding, and they believe she can lead them to him. 47, however, has other plans. He wants to locate Katia first and end the program once and for all. It's not a bad setup for a rousing shoot-'em-up but, unfortunately, the would-be thriller is as lifeless as the bodies 47 leaves in his wake.
Aleksander Bach, a commercial and music-video director making his feature debut, borrows heavily from the Terminator and Matrix movies, and is interested much more in style than substance. If the filmmakers had put as much thought into the generic script as they did into how to artfully spray blood over a pristine white staircase, then Hitman could at least have passed for a mild, guilty pleasure. But the repetitive nature of the deaths and 47's lack of emotion fail to quicken the pulse. It's also difficult to root for 47 or anybody else since most everyone is evil, even John Smith (Zachary Quinto), a skilled fighter in his own right, who presents himself as Katia's protector and is 47's primary adversary. The actors, none of whom seem especially invested in their roles, trudge through their paces well enough but their underwritten parts leave them little to work with.
Hitman: Agent 47 is actually the second Hitman movie. Timothy Olyphant starred as 47 in a quickly dismissed 2007 version and now 20th Century Fox is attempting to relaunch the series. At one point Katia threatens to kill 47 if he harms her father. "I'm not that easy to kill," he replies. True, he's not. However, Fox's plan to turn Hitman into a hit franchise is a much easier target to terminate. But, hey, if you're interested in an Audi, it's a perfect picture.