Hitman: Agent 47

August 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Rupert Friend, Hannah Ware, Zachary Quinto
Directed by: Aleksander Bach (debut)
Written by: Skip Woods (“Hitman”) and Michael Finch (“The November Man”)

Look, I don’t really know much about video games these days, but I do know that the relationship between games and films—consisting of films based on games or vice-versa—is one of missed opportunities, half-assed hack jobs, and marred by some of the worst examples of either genre. Foregoing the film-to-games side of the equation, of which the only positive example is “GoldenEye 64,” let’s turn to the list of lame to terrible movies made from video games, like “Super Mario Bros.,” “Street Fighter,” “Doom,” and, well, every single other adaptation you can think of. The latest game-to-movie adaptation to leap out of consoles and into theaters is “Hitman: Agent 47,” a second try at crafting a cinematic adventure from a pixelated bucket of generic crap like genetically-modified assassins, shadowy organizations staffed with blindly-loyal cannon fodder, and robotically-efficient hitmen differentiated with tattooed bar codes.

Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is an emotionless killing machine, engineered from childhood to be an assassin for one of the aforementioned shadowy organization known as The Agency and to fight a different shadowy organization known as The Syndicate—and no, not the same one from “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” 47 is sent to kill Katia (Hannah Ware), a young woman searching for a mysterious man she knows nothing about. Katia is intercepted by John Smith (Zachary Quinto), another mysterious stranger who tells her the man he is looking for is her father, and he is the man behind the Agent program that created 47 and numerous other Agents. Punch punch shoot, chase chase, helicopter explodes, maybe one cool action sequence, yawn.

In 2007, Timothy Olyphant, an actual charismatic actor, played 47 and no one cared. Desperate to try again on the franchise (for some reason) Fox originally tapped the late Paul Walker as the new 47. With the star’s tragic death in 2013, the studio decided to forge ahead anyway with whoever looked good with their head shaved and settled on “Homeland’s” Rupert Friend, who leaves no impression whatsoever, just like the rest of the movie. Quinto tries to have some fun, but the nonsensical screenplay strands him in a plot turn that gives him nothing to do but chase after Friend and Ware. Ciaran Hinds, lately of “Game of Thrones,” also shows up for a little while, but nothing means anything and as soon as the credits roll, the whole movie slips from your memory, like hitting the reset button on your video game console.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

May 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston
Directed by: Gavin Hood (“Rendition”)
Written by: David Benioff (“The Kite Runner”) and Skip Woods (“Swordfish”)

It’s no surprise 20th Century Fox wanted to start the new “X-Men Origins” series with the most popular character of the mutant group after the first three installments raked in more than 600 million in the U.S.

In “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which is the first in more than likely a string of prequels to follow (“Magneto” is scheduled for 2011), Hugh Jackman reprises his role as the clawed-one. Director Gavin Hood (“Rendition”) takes us back to the beginning of the superhero’s life when he was a young, sickly boy struggling with the gift/curse with which he was born.

While the back story to Logan AKA Wolverine’s upbringing is noteworthy (we watch him and his half-brother Victor, who later becomes his nemesis Sabretooth, fight their way through years of war and suffering), the script soon stumbles onto an uninspired story of revenge. It’s a played-out theme that should have been left for its predecessors or at least built on a bit more securely.

When Logan turns his back on his unique capabilities and chooses to live his life in Canada as a normal human being with his wife, Victor (Liev Schreiber) gives him six years of freedom before coming to knock at his door and cause problems. Taking a page from “Watchmen,” Sabretooth is picking off his former mutant comrades and decides to punish Logan by killing his wife. (Cue the cliché aerial camera shot of a distraught Jackman screaming in the air as he holds his dead wife in his arms).

This prompts Logan to set out after his bro for revenge, but not before getting help from William Stryker (Danny Huston), the military man who unites the band of mutants at the beginning of the film to search for an indestructible material in Africa. This, of course, is the substance that is later injected into Logan to transform him into Marvel Comics’ icon Wolverine. The event is highlighted with Logan’s jagged claws turning into sleek alloy blades.

From here, the familiar Wolverine is born and begins his journey to find Sabretooth and destroy him. But not before screenwriters David Benioff (“The Kite Runner”) and Skip Woods (“Swordfish”) can introduce (or reintroduce) us to more mutants who, despite their massive following in the comic-book world, sort of bow out without doing much of anything. In essence, characters like Gamit (Taylor Kitsch), Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Agent Zero (David North), feel like trivial cameos amidst some astonishingly terrible special effects. (Hood might as well have left the actual green screen on the set during some scenes. The actors literally look like their running in a studio lot).

Nevertheless, it’s not only the technical flaws that make “Wolverine” so average and dull. Most of the finger-pointing should be directed toward Benioff and Woods for sticking to the safe route rather than giving audiences something they’ve never seen before. Sadly, “Wolverine” falls somewhere in the middle in terms of superhero cinema. It’s where most comic-based blockbusters that make millions go to be forgotten.