When in doubt, fly a helicopter into a building, because you might take out a few bad guys and win the movie. That’s the standard of logic behind director Aleksander Bach’s sequel/reboot of 2007’s “Hitman”, which is loosely adapted from the IO Interactive video game series of flagging popularity. It might be its most laughably over-the-top scene, but it’s not nearly the film’s biggest problem.
In “Hitman: Agent 47”, Rupert Friend of “Homeland” fame takes the reigns from Timothy Olyphant as the titular cloned assassin, and this time he’s out to prevent an enemy organization from getting their hands on the formula that created #47 and his bald-headed brethren. To keep the body count respectably high, wave after wave of under-prepared paramilitary types are deployed to their doom, save the virtually bulletproof John Smith (Zachary Quinto), a wolf dressed for a GQ fall fashion shoot. Agent 47 must do battle with Smith in order to ensnare Katia (Hannah Ware), an enigmatic prognosticator with a bead on the geneticist (Ciarán Hinds) who holds the secret sauce to the cloning program.
The film itself looks like a facsimile of any number of other low-grade action flicks, with each fight scene more forced and mechanical than the next, each environment more sterile, each round discharged more numbing to the senses. And despite an ever-growing pool of adversaries, Agent 47’s biggest struggle seems to be against the effects of an Ambien: at one point, after an exhausting exchange of clichés with Katia regarding humans beings’ ability to change, he hangs up his throwing knives and falls asleep sitting upright in a chair, trademark red necktie still firmly in place.
Ware at least exhibits some charisma as the heroine, as she hones her abilities through a series of tests that are designed to prepare her for some highly unlikely circumstances, like being held hostage in a state-of-the-art aeronautic test facility (and later, tied up in the cockpit of a remote-controlled helicopter). It turns out that a giant turbine engine can really come in handy when you need to untether yourself from a chair, or for making bad-guy puree, if a firearm isn’t readily available.
The film ends up in Singapore, where cinematographer Óttar Guðnason makes the most of its striking architecture and scenery, a much better reason to visit the city than endure the movie. As far as the script is concerned, original “Hitman” writer Skip Woods and “November Man” contributor Michael Finch clearly want to expand the world in which these characters exist without doing anything with the characters themselves. If you’re still in your seat when the credits start rolling, you might as well stick around for a sequence mid-way through that suggests there will be more “Hitman” to come. But “Agent 47” will likely drum up more business for Audi than it will demand for a third movie.