Paul W. S. Anderson would be proud.
The second attempt to bring the popular video game franchise to Big Screen life fares no better than the first, delivering little more than the Hitman equivalent of a Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil sequel.Favouring style over substance, Hitman: Agent 47 will appeal to Resident Evil sequel fans, who strive for this stylistic approach, but ultimately it plays out as a series of CGI-dominated, effects-driven, slo-mo-tastic action setpieces set against an unnecessarily convoluted backstory of cloning, super-soldier assassins, special serums, renegade scientists, clandestine organisations, and outright superpowers. Rather than stripping things back to basics, and positing a simple tale of almost-impossible assassination tasks which have to be completed under tense Mission: Impossible-style circumstances, Agent 47, much like its predecessor, seeks instead to get heavily entrenched in the Hitman mythos, an aspect which really only appeals to the dedicated Hitman gaming fanbase, and which will leave fresh viewers out in the cold.Indeed even fans of the games will know that story is little more than an elaborate backdrop for getting to play cleverly intricate assassination missions - something which appears to have been completely lost on the filmmakers here, who instead throw us pseudo-psychic near-superpowers to assist in unnecessarily convoluted kills where, quite simply, a single headshot would suffice. Poor Zachary Quinto seems to be in it for the pay cheque, whilst Rupert Friend only devalues his stellar - and similarly-themed, but far better developed - contribution to Homeland, and debut director Aleksander Bach fails to distinguish this first-Hollywood-production-ever-in-Singapore largely by being handcuffed by a script from the guy who wrote the last Hitman film failure. There's some brainless, superficial fun to be had here, but its largely fleeting, vacuous and unexceptional.
Picture QualityHitman: Agent 47 looks shiny and polished in HD, benefiting from a clinical and precise presentation.
Digitally-captured in HD, the 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation promotes the film in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. It offers up clarity and fine object observation that excels, with supreme detail which reveals every skin blemish, almost every strand of hair, and the textures of the polished environment – all often in slow-mo glory, and without any overt signs of digital defects or other anomalies. The colour scheme is comparatively natural, although distinctive locations pop with primary glory, from the red of the Audi escape vehicle to the red of Agent 47’s trademark tie, with the striking botanical gardens providing arguably the most impressive flair. Black levels are strong and deep, with no distracting crush or banding, allowing everything from 47’s suit to the darker night-bathed sequences to excel.
Sound QualityThe DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track provides a dominating, immersive aural accompaniment.
Obviously at its most distinctive during the elaborately staged action setpieces, with roaring car and motorbike engines, screeching tyres, whirring industrial machinery, whipping helicopter blades, explosive detonations and even a jet engine testing unit bringing the soundstage to engulfing life, and tearing through your living room with punch and precision. Dialogue remains relatively clear, although 47’s distinctive, restrained intonation doesn’t always rise to meet the level offered by the rest of the characters in conversation. The music is just about as painfully generic as you would expect from this kind of affair, but only provides further fuel for what is a strong, bombastic affair that succeeds in immersing you far more effectively than the film itself.
ExtrasNothing weighty here, but a series of in-character additions furthers the experience for fans.
The Hit Counter is perhaps the most fun – although arguably pointless – gimmick, running in tandem with the main movie whilst assessing the various kills along the way, offering a slightly more inventive PiP model which includes storyboards and effects breakdowns rather than just a simple tally. Beyond that we get a few minutes of Deleted Scenes; a few short Featurettes offering little insight into the production, and a little more insight into the fight sequences; a Photo Gallery and some Trailers and, perhaps most worthwhile, a prequel comic (and making of Featurette for the comic) that offers a little backstory in many ways more interesting than the main event. The disc is rounded off by a series of Previews.
Blu-ray VerdictStruggling to even reach the giddy heights of mediocrity established by its predecessor, this Hitman reboot is less silent assassin and more noisy nonsense.
At least the Blu-ray release is decent enough, with excellent video and audio and a few nice extra features to placate fans.
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