Hitman: Agent 47 reboot's poor aim

Agent 47 (Rupert Friend, far left) squares off against assassin John Smith (Zachary Quinto) in Hitman: Agent 47.
Agent 47 (Rupert Friend,left) squares off against assassin John Smith (Zachary Quinto) in Hitman: Agent 47.PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

There are well-crafted scenes of fights and plenty of shots around Singapore, but the thin plot lets Hitman: Agent 47 down

REVIEW / ACTION

HITMAN: AGENT 47 (NC16)

97 minutes/Now showing/2/5

THE STORY: Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) is aware she is different from other women. She meets John Smith (Zachary Quinto), who tells her that Agents, genetically enhanced assassins, are set to kill her. These superhumans were created by her father, Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds). Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) discovers their hiding place and begins his deadly work.

The best and worst thing about this otherwise forgettable video game-based movie is that a major chunk of it was shot in and features Singapore.

The country here is a gleaming, futuristic cyber-city, so plugged into the global network that no self-respecting criminal mastermind would miss the chance to plonk his global headquarters in it, which is exactly what Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) does with his terrorist group Syndicate International.

Perched atop his computer-drawn iceberg of a tower that overlooks Marina Bay, Le Clerq plots the downfall of Western democracy while reaping the benefits of life in capitalist fast lane. It is a bit like hating your mum yet expecting that she makes your favourite pudding for dinner.

By the slimmest of margins, this form of exaggeration of Singapore beats the usual depiction, which is to show the country and South-east Asia in general as a steamy purgatory that corrupts that noblest white man.

The name of the country is mentioned a few times (in the most heavy-handed, titter-inducing way) and locations such as Changi Airport and Gardens by the Bay get plenty of screen time, but these served merely as picturesque backgrounds. For all it matters to the plot, the location might as well have been Dublin or Dubai.

Not that the plot deserves all that much scrutiny. The connective tissue around the key fight and chase sequences is thin and tears apart under inspection.

First-time feature director Aleksander Bach and screenwriter Skip Woods (The A-Team, 2010; X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009; and Hitman, 2007; of which this is a reboot) make sure the emotions are big and well-telegraphed for international audiences.

Loud, crunchy fights, featuring lots of headshots and blood sprays, are crafted well, but the shaky-cam style robs them of impact.

Friend and Ware as the barcoded killer and the woman in distress are an interesting combination of cold fish and the emotionally overwrought. Still, that is not enough to stop you from wondering why a reboot of the 2007 original was necessary.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Reboot's poor aim'. Print Edition | Subscribe