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Hitman: Agent 47 Review — This Is Not a Game

hitman agent 47 review

Hitman: Agent 47 was directed by Aleksander Bach and written by Michael Finch and Skip Woods. It stars Rupert Friend as Agent 47, Hannah Ware as Katia van Dees, and Zachary Quinto as John Smith—er—Brian.

It’s based on the video game of half the same name, Hitman, which is a popular franchise about an elite assassin with no emotions or empathy coming up with creative ways to kill his high profile targets.

He’s traditionally shown wearing his iconic red tie and nice suit. He has a shaved head, a bar code at the base of his neck from when he was “engineered” into an agent, and his trusty silver ballers, which are basically just Lara Croft’s dual pistols with silencers.

hitman agent 47

I’ve been a big fan of these video games since Hitman: Codename 47 came out in 2000. I still remember the brilliance of Blood Money from 2006, and I even liked Absolution, the somewhat poorly received game from 2012.

Even the 2007 movie starring Timothy Olyphant was a passable diversion for me. It had its problems, but it at least fell within B-movie territory. It had neat ideas, the characters were OK, and even memorable action scenes I still remember almost a decade later.

I saw Hitman: Agent 47 just a few hours ago, and I barely remember any of the action scenes in that movie. I don’t even know if I can explain the plot to someone without giving up halfway through.

So what’s this new Hitman movie about? The plot centers around a young girl who is looking for someone she’s never met who apparently holds the secrets to creating an army of super-powered assassins. She’s hunted by one of these assassins, who turns out to be Agent 47. She comes across a CIA agent who tries to protect her, but it’s revealed that he’s…the bad guy? And then Agent 47 is sort of the good guy. But they’re all looking for the same thing for different reasons…and…I think the bad guys want to…well, it’s never explained.

hitman agent 47 review

I think Jurassic World‘s militarized raptor subplot made more sense than this.

The opening scene itself lost me instantly. It’s heavy on exposition we don’t care about, and it goes on for way too long explaining things we don’t care about with computer screens and pixellated faces we don’t care about. From then on, the movie boils down to people chasing each other and explosions. That’s about it.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise if you recognize the talent of the writer I mentioned, Skip Woods. You may remember him as the guy who wrote X-Men Origins: WolverineCredentials, and…Hitman (2007)?

No, seriously, they brought back the guy who worked on the Hitman movie that completely bombed on top of the worst X-Men movie. People who make money doing this for a living made that decision.

hitman agent 47 review

Not even the director seemed to know what he was doing here. This is Bach’s directorial debut, and even though the movie has some style to it, you can tell that it lacks good direction. The action scenes and editing are put together alright, and there are even some interesting ideas here and there (though nothing truly inspiring).

But there’s a complete lack of connectivity going on between both the characters and the set pieces.

There are multiple instances of Agent 47 and Katia having what appear to be “visions” that let them know what’s going on in other parts of the building. This doesn’t work at all because most of the visions are triggered when they touch someone or something or each other, making you think they’re psychic or just having hallucinations.

Also, it makes no sense WHATSOEVER that they can see through walls. Maybe the script does a better job painting this picture, but I found myself completely distracted by the lack of logic in how everything moved and related with each other in almost every scene. Even the ones in confined quarters.

hitman agent 47 review

What about the actors? Individually, they’re fine, but once they start interacting with each other, the movie becomes a chore to sit through. The first issue is how the endless exposition seems to do more harm than good because it introduces a new plot hole every 47 seconds. There’s enough plot holes going on visually, but when the writing gets involved…

I had a headache after watching this movie. Not because it was loud and dumb, but because there were so many plot holes, I couldn’t sit still. I was constantly engaged with how poor and ill-conceived this movie was. It caused me physical pain.

The second issue with the characters is their complete lack of apparent interest in anything that’s going on. Watching Agent 47 and Katia interact is like watching two coworkers talk about work. Just look at this image:

hitman agent 47 review

And I’m not cherry picking. That’s the extent of their expressions throughout the entire film. No passion. No hint of a motivation written for them. To be fair, this is expected from Agent 47 because that’s his character (even though the games make 47 look like the Joker compared to this guy).

But Katia is supposed to be our gateway into the lore of this movie, and she’s just as bland as everyone else. It was actually a smart idea to present Hitman through a person learning how to be one from the legend himself. So it would have worked if there were genuine reactions and important dialogue coming from this character, but they’re nonexistent.

What about the action scenes? They could have been good, as some of the setups are clearly inspired from the game and play homage here and there. Unfortunately, the CGI is pretty terrible and noticeable. And the few decent scenes were always ruined halfway through.

hitman agent 47 review

There’s a great sequence where Agent 47 uses stealth to take out a few guards. It would have been great if they left it at that, but then you see him walking casually down a staircase just shooting everyone and walking away unharmed. It completely undercut any tension that started to build when the scene started.

Another scene has 47 steal the clothes from a guard he’s taken out, which is a fun throwback to the games. But then he’s encountered by another guard in what is at that point a race against time, but then he takes the time to take out that guard too and change his clothes again for no conceivable reason.

One of the most frustrating scenes is when Agent 47 has multiple opportunities to finish off the main villain, but he just walks away every time he brings the guy down. Then the villain gets back up and tackles him. Agent 47 knocks him down again and walks away. Then the villain gets up and tackles him again. This cycle happens about four times WHILE AGENT 47 STILL HAS A GUN IN HIS HAND. 

Then there’s the matter of Agent 47 being surrounded by armored guards with machine guns, but he’s able to defeat all of them in the middle of broad daylight without moving. And he doesn’t get shot once.

hitman agent 47 review

And the soundtrack? They couldn’t even get that right. One of the prime attractions of this character is how beautiful classical music contrasts with the bloodshed that’s taking place. There’s not one moment where this happens. Instead, the scarce music that does take place is a boring mix of electric guitars and…I can’t remember what else.

 

This is easily one of the worst action movies of the year, and probably the summer. While I didn’t have high expectations for it, I honestly thought we could at least get something interesting to salvage from a movie paying tribute to a fantastic game series. Now I’m more jaded than ever that they can’t get a Hitman movie done right.

Strangely, the only good Hitman movie is last year’s John Wick. Like the games, it features an overpowered assassin working within the confines of an underground organization. In fact, just watch John Wick this weekend instead of Agent 47 and you’ll get your fill.

Grade: F

And that’s all I have left to say about it. I wouldn’t even recommend it to someone who wants to “turn their brain off” and watch a good action movie. Go watch Mission: Impossible again or any of the legions of other superior action movies that are out there and avoid this mess at all costs.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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‘The Witcher’ Could Be Hollywood’s Next Billion Dollar Franchise

the witcher franchise

Adapting movies from video games is no easy thing. It sparks fear and discord among burned Hollywood executives who’ve had to throw money in the trash for Super Mario, the Prince of Persia, and Hitman (and possibly again with Agent 47). Why would The Witcher be any different?

This is a recent post I published on Moviepilot concerning the future of The Witcher, a popular series of video games adapted from short stories and novels written by Andrzej Sapkowski. In it, I give a crash course on what The Witcher is, where it came from, and where it’s likely going.

Needless to say, I think this franchise is gearing up for a massive release across mediums. And we should all take notice.

Why We Hate Destiny’s Story (And How It Could Have Been Way Better)

If you’re reading this as someone who is looking into buying Destiny, please wait until the end of this article before you let my opinions influence your purchase decision. If you’re reading this as someone trying to make sense of the confusing mess that is Destiny, then I hope this write-up puts your thoughts into coherent words.

The game in question is a recently released sci-fi epic available on Xbox One, PS4 and last-gen consoles. There’s been a lot of hype for this game as being one of the first “true” next-gen games to show off what’s next in gaming.

But if you’ve recently read a review for Destiny, then you’ve likely come across this exact sentiment: “It’s fun, but blah blah, story.”

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I’m doing the same thing with this post, sort of. Except I’m digging deep into the why behind Destiny’s clumsy execution. Especially when you consider how Bungie spent a whopping 5 years putting this thing together (and hundreds of millions of dollars).

Destiny is a fascinating game. What’s even more fascinating is the fact that Destiny’s flaws are just as fascinating as the things that make Destiny a fun game.

But not even all of that fun in this FPS/RPG/MMO (first person shooter/role-playing game/massive multiplayer online) can save it from one thing that no one seems to like: the story.

destiny

This is especially sad for me, because the story of any game is just as important as the gameplay and graphics. Or at least the reason behind what you’re doing in the game.

That said, a good narrative doesn’t have to be the main reason for why I want to play a game.

Take Titanfall for example. In that game, there’s hardly a story, but I still enjoyed it.

But with Destiny? Also not much of a story, but that’s a bigger problem than with Titanfall. Why? Do I hate Bungie? Do people just hate Bungie for no reason?

destiny

That’s an obvious “no.” The Halo franchise is one of the most celebrated sagas in gaming history.

There are a lot of reasons for why Destiny’s story doesn’t work. And those reasons contribute to why everyone is so disappointed with Bungie’s latest outing. I’ll sum it up on word:

Expectations.

One of the main things that makes a story great is surprise. If the person experiencing the story has a hard time predicting the outcome of the story, then that increases the chances of them being pleased by what does happen.

The main way to make your story “surprising” is by being creative. Originality for the sake of originality doesn’t accomplish much. But creativity for the sake of telling a good story does more for your story than clever names for your characters will ever do.

destiny

Destiny tries very hard to create immersion. And they set your expectations very high by creating a world that you want to be immersed in. But ultimately, the writers had it backwards (I don’t know why).

Immersion doesn’t happen unless the story behind your world is compelling.

The world of Destiny, though curiously interesting, is hardly compelling. And Bungie made some rookie errors in that respect.

For example, the removal of a “codex” so that you can pester people into visiting your website is 100% a stupid decision. Specifically, the game will choose not to give you a back story into a certain event or character because you’re expected to stop playing and check it out on Bungie’s website.

destiny

That’s so wrong, it’s Raven. Bungie is essentially asking you to step out of the immersive world they’ve created to increase traffic to their own website. It doesn’t look good for them, and it’s certainly inconvenient for you.

The other problem is that if you don’t want to visit Bungie’s site to get more info on what the heck is going on in Destiny, then good luck figuring out what the heck is going on in Destiny.

These are relatively minor problems, though. Bungie could easily fix them in Destiny 2 or even the next update (not that they will). But there’s a bigger, deeper problem with the story and world of Destiny.

Conceptually, it’s an artistic mess. Let’s break that sentence down.

Conceptually: what makes Destiny, “Destiny.”
Artistic: what makes Destiny interesting and unique.
Mess: mess.

destiny

Destiny is a game full of good story ideas dressed up in overcomplicated flair. It has a cool structure, but to be simple: it tries too hard. It just tries way, way too hard.

The good story ideas come down to the setting and overall plot. Earth in the distant future? Fine. Takes place all over the solar system? Cool. Even the character designs and classes are somewhat new and interesting.

But when you go deeper, you find that everything else about the game is horribly generic. And when you combine generic execution with a creative foundation, you get, well, an artistic mess.

If you’ve played the game, yourself, then you know what I’m talking about.

destiny

The only people around (pretty much at all) in this world are called Guardians. First of all, that’s boring in and of itself. You never meet or talk to anyone who isn’t a fellow darkness-attacker.

I had to ask myself too many times, “Just who am I fighting for in this game? The guy with the mask? Myself? Peter Dinklage?”

And of course, “Guardians” is one of the laziest names they could have used as a classification. What isn’t a “Guardian” anymore these days? It’s a horrendously overused and uninteresting word at this point. Same goes with Hunters. Sure, Titan and Warlock are an improvement, but not by much.

The game is littered with odd naming choices like this. The Crucible (the hub for multiplayer) was “Mass Effected” just a couple of years ago. Sure, that one instance doesn’t ruin the name, but it does for plenty of people who are sick of seeing that word all over their video games and movies (and Arthur Miller novels).

destiny

And if you thought “Guardians” was lazy, then wait until you hear Peter Dinklage go on about “The Darkness.” You know your game’s story has a problem when it reads like a young adult novel by Stephanie Meyer.

And your robots are called “Ghosts?” Bungie (and Activision), we are sick and tired of everything being “ghosts,” especially since Call of Duty named an entire game after the concept a year ago. In Destiny, it doesn’t even make thematic sense that your robot companion is a “Ghost.”

Again, these are all simple problems that, on their own, don’t deserve much scrutiny. But all of these cringe-worthy story elements combined seriously prevent gamers from enjoying what Destiny has to offer in terms of gameplay and beautiful settings (of which I have little complaint, actually. The story is that bad).

destiny

And we haven’t even gotten to the story of the story — what’s driving you from going on those tedious fetch quests that barely vary, if at all. As you can imagine, it’s easily the game’s biggest, most obvious problem.

Because odd choices in your world and aesthetics can easily be forgiven if you have an engaging story with memorable characters.

Destiny doesn’t (really) have characters at all. Don’t get me wrong, it has placeholders. Characters, though? Can’t say I came across one.

The only character we actually get to know and listen to is our Ghost companion, voiced by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones). His role is essentially “male Cortana.” And that’s about all the thought they put into him.

destiny

[The role of Cortana merged with the design of 343 Guilty Spark, basically]

All he does is direct you on your missions. He lets you know what you’re supposed to be doing, what to look out for, and he provides occasional insights into the ever-elusive backstory of this strange, postapocalyptic world.

The problem? All of these things are the same, essentially. Your missions are astoundingly similar to each other, and the script reads as if it were put together in a matter of minutes.

This is mostly evidenced by Peter Dinklage’s clear boredom as he voices his character. Yes, it’s so tedious that Tyrion himself can’t find much to like about it. Some people want to blame him for the dry performance, but it’s not his fault if he has nothing interesting to talk about.

It’s easy and sort of necessary to compare Destiny to Halo, which is Bungie’s true claim to fame. The “magic” of Halo just doesn’t exist here, even though the games are fairly similar to each other (and not just when it comes to gameplay).

With Halo, you had a simple story set within a fascinating world. Even the aliens were the stars. That’s why Elites, Grunts, Jackals and Hunters would remain memorable figures as Halo aged.

destiny

Destiny, in comparison, is a complicated story set within an even more complicated world (and forgettable enemies). In Halo, my mission was straightforward. I was a powerful soldier (with other soldiers at my side to prove my scale) trying to survive on a mysterious world.

Many good games have this kind of simple story structure to draw you in. Far Cry 3 starts with the imperative that you have to save your friends on an island filled with dangerous pirates. Mass Effect is all about stopping a madman from resurrecting a genocidal race of super aliens. Fallout just comes down to surviving the nuclear wasteland.

But in Destiny, it’s not clear what I’m trying to do or why I’m anywhere the Ghost sends me. There’s no intrigue. No motivation. I’m lifted out of the rubble and told to join some movement, without a second thought (kind of what Destiny expects out of us as gamers).

destiny

I just shoot evil aliens. That’s enough, I suppose, to justify buying it. But it’s nowhere near enough to say that Destiny is a special game.

And a simple explanation for all of these problems is the oft-cited observation that Destiny has a bit of an identity crisis. It tries to be all things to all people, and this lack of focus makes the overall game suffer.

I would add that Destiny is also an example of why a good recipe is more than just combining two things. Because on paper, the game should work pretty well — it has all of the things we like about Halo, Call of Duty, and the best MMOs — but it’s not any better than the sum of its parts.

destiny

And the saddest thing about all of this is that it doesn’t take a professional team of writers to make a better narrative than what we got. My own version, if this project was handed to me, would be as follows:

Centuries after Earth was abandoned for unknown reasons, a coalition of humans and robots returned to the Solar System to recolonize the still resource-rich worlds. But they find that new, feral species have appeared, and they’re organized. Thus begins a war for who will reclaim the Solar System. Will it be the “new” humans? Or this seemingly selfish race of aggressive “aliens” that (Plot twist!) actually inhabited the Solar System long before humans, making them the rightful rulers of Earth and the rest all along?

I came up with that on the fly. Bungie on the other hand had years to churn this out, and the best they could come up with was the same “humanity versus invading alien forces that vaguely look like robots. Again.”

destiny

Here’s just one more take on the Destiny universe:

Centuries in the future, the Solar System is abandoned. No one knows what happened to humans, who were on the brink of faster-than-light travel before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace. New governments and migrating species have since colonized the 8 planets (and Pluto), but a struggle for control ensues when a schism divides the Solar System into two warring factions. You’re a member of an order of scavengers who loot the battle-torn areas of this conflict. But in your pursuit of fortune, your order encounters an even more dangerous secret that could change the galaxy forever. 

Seriously, Bungie. Step it up.

destiny

Overall, Destiny is a mindless game. But while other mindless games get a free pass, Destiny doesn’t because it wants you to think it’s not mindless. By dressing up its world with seemingly creative ideas that fall short of your expectations.

But, and this is a big but, Destiny is still (miraculously) worth playing if you like good shooters with some RPG elements. In those respects, the game excels and is addicting fun. You just have to immerse yourself out of the story to better enjoy it.

What do you think of Destiny?

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’ May Be Getting a Sequel

It wasn’t the biggest hit Disney has ever made, but Wreck-It Ralph was still a very important film for a variety of reasons, starting with its ambitious incorporation of video gaming’s pantheon of characters and ending with its implementation of a new set of characters that we ultimately fell in love with.

The movie sold me on the idea of seeing classic video game icons and tropes together onscreen, but a sequel sells me on the promise that I’ll get to once again experience the adventures of Ralph, Vanellope and the rest of the arcade gang.

Well according to film composer Henry Jackman, a sequel is already in the works, though that doesn’t mean it’s official quite yet.

This means that the script is in preproduction, and the future of a potential sequel will be determined by how much faith Disney has in this franchise that took us all by surprise just a couple of years ago.

Wreck-It Ralph was a hit with both audiences and critics, and it managed to overshadow Pixar’s Brave, which was released that same year (though Rango won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature that year).

Financially, however, the film wasn’t as big of a success as Disney probably hoped it would be. It wasn’t a flop, as it did manage to turn a profit, but that means a sequel will be under even more scrutiny, especially because we now live in a world where a movie like Frozen is capable of breaking all-time box office records.

And yet I’m still excited about the possibility of making another trip into the rich world of video games and what makes them so much fun. One of the first movie’s biggest flaws, of course, was that it spent the majority of its time exploring “Sugar Rush,” which was endemic of the film’s budget constraints more than anything.

wreck-it ralph sequel
AKA “Diabetesville”

This time around, it would be great for us to visit more locations with new blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos that made the first film so much fun. The best part is that we’ve gotten to know Ralph at this point, making a sequel a prime opportunity for giving him more to do and new faces to meet.

Unfortunately, speculation is all we can do right now until official news is released one way or the other. Are you excited about the potential Wreck-It Ralph sequel, or do believe it will be game over for this franchise?

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

Review: ‘Disney Infinity’

disney-infinityThe possibilities with Disney Infinity are, well, infinite. But is it worth your hard-earned money?

Go on…Review: ‘Disney Infinity’

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