Apparently, this film did not deserve a tagline.
Directed by Xavier Gens
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott and Olga Kurylenko
Agent 47, an assassin trained from childhood to become the ultimate killing machine, is set up by his own organisation in order to replace the Russian President with a hardline body-double, leading 47 to seeking vengeance. Meanwhile, an Interpol Inspector (who would be the hero of this film if it had any sense of shame) is closing in on 47.
What’s wrong with it?
The synopsis above disguises just how convoluted the film manages to make its simple (yet incredibly stupid) premise. 47 is hired to publicly assassinate the President, putting a bullet through his head in front of a crowd of witnesses and TV cameras. He is then targeted for assassination since he is ‘the only one who knows Belikoff is really dead’, despite a) the aforementioned witnesses, b) the fact that he is explicitly devoted to his job, a man without country or politics, and c) the fact that within hours everyone has worked out what happened and the CIA already knows who did it, why and how. He travels around Russia with a psychologically scarred prostitute in tow, because she also knows the secret that everyone knows, so he needs to keep her alive because… otherwise there aren’t any tits in the movie? It’s certainly not for her brains or personality, since she displays none of the former and the latter is kind of grating. Pretty much any other female character in the film is a hooker with no lines – I tell a lie, 47’s controller, Diana, has lines, if not motivation – or someone’s wife or child who is threatened off-screen by 47.
Our hero, ladies and gents.
Also, Olyphant is phoning this one in. 47 is supposed to be impassive, but it comes as no surprise to learn that he literally did this to cover the mortgage after Deadwood got cancelled.
Apparently, the geography is all over the shop as well, although props for using St Petersburg instead of Moscow.
What’s right with it?
There are a few decent action sequences. There are also some nice nods to the game in scenes where 47 meticulously preps his environment with hidden pistols and escape ropes, or drops an ‘out of order’ sign on the door with all the bodies behind it.
Of course, if it were really true to the game it would be frigging impossible to get the sign to stay there and he’d have to murder the cleaner who pushed effortlessly past him while he was trying.
How bad is it really?
It’s a confused mess on every level, and contains some scenes that make no sense, but they clearly just felt they wanted them in there. It’s also insanely familiar, ditching pretty much every original idea from the game in favour of a plot that wasn’t original in Sanctuary ten years earlier.
Best bit (if such there is)?
There is some random nudity, but the film at least avoids a gratuitous sex scene. At one point, Nika proves her psychologically damaged status by trying to seduce 47, only for him to inject her with the remains of the sedative he’s just uses on one of the bad guys.
Our hero, once again.
What’s up with…?
- The plot? It makes no sense whatsoever, from the attempt to silence a man whose professional silence is legendary to 47 setting up clues to lead to a denouement he has absolutely no way of anticipating.
- The collusion of the Organisation in this attempt? 47 is their top guy, but they want to throw him away for not-Belikoff despite being explicitly non-political.
- Nika? Why is she there? Why isn’t the female lead Diana? They set it up with her calling to warn 47, and then… nothing, despite her managing more personality in that one phone call than Nika does in the whole movie.
- Nika’s obsession with screwing 47? It’s played as an attraction, not a sign of psychological damage, but she’s supposedly been the abused sex-slave of not-Belikoff for her entire life. How is she supposed to be even a little bit sex positive?
- The need to kill 47 when everyone knows that not-Belikoff is not Belikoff?
- The insistence on a public assassination of a man you later want to claim is not dead?
- The random sword fight in the train, which comes out of nowhere? Apparently the original scene had none of it, so it’s clearly just something they stuck in to have a sword fight.
- Agent 47, Master of Disguise? He never even puts a hat on to cover the bald head and bar code. On the other hand, it basically never works. When infiltrating a weapons sale coke party, he is instantly made due to his choice of a smart suit rather than something he stole off the set of a 70s porno.
Production values – Gens loves him some red filters, but the film is mostly well shot, albeit with some giveaway ‘shoot offscreen’ moments suggestive of money troubles. 11
Dialogue and performances – Olyphant phones this one in, while Olga Kurylenko gives it her all, with much the same results. Dougray Scott is the emotional heart of the movie, and for my money its tragic hero who never gets his man. None of them exactly have Shakespeare to work with. 14
Plot and execution – The plot is stupid. It is a stupid plot that only works because everyone in the movie is stupid. 19
Randomness – Oh, hey; let’s have a knife fight! But, with swords that we pull out of our arses and that 47 will never be carrying or use again. Hell, one entire character is completely random. 18
Waste of potential – Movies of computer games are rarely good, but this one barely even tries. As with Max Payne (which also deserves a review here) it jettisons anything from the game that resembles an original concept in favour of an undistinguished plot filled with dodgy Russians and Olga Kurylenko blandly flashing her bits for the camera. While I don’t know if a more faithful version would have been much better, it certainly could have been better, and that’s what counts. 15