Review – Agents 1 through 46 had to be better… (“Hitman: Agent 47”)

Based on the popular video game about an unstoppable genetically enhanced assassin, this guy’s a melange of super-assassin’s like John Wick, Evelyn Salt, Bryan Mills, Leon, and the MacManus brothers. This is actually a sequel to the 2007 movie Hitman that nobody saw or remembers.
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Rupert Friend (a barcode stamped on his skull) plays emotionless Agent 47 with a contract to carry out by his company, International Contracts Agency (aka “the Agency”). His assignment is to find Dr. Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), the father of genetic research and founder of the Agency where they made all the Agents like 47, and terminate him. Problem is, he’s dropped off the grid and 47’s gonna have to do some digging to find him.

The flip side of the coin is that he’s not the only one after the good doctor. Yes, the Syndicate (aka “the bad guys”) wants the Doc too so they can make Agents for them! So, they send their best man to kill Agent 47 and find the doctor by whatever means possible. Meet John Smith (Zachary Quinto), a villainous super-enhanced agent of the Syndicate that’s after Litvenko, but decides that grabbing the doctor’s daughter is the next best thing.

The doctor’s grown daughter, Katia VanDees (Hanna Ware), is a paranoid woman living alone and given to strange and inextricable visions of future happenings of things and people around here. Pursued by both Smith and 47 at the same time, she’s also looking for dear ol’ dad too, and Smith, making out that he’s the good guy, ‘saves’ her from 47 and almost gets her to divulge where papa is.

Fortunately 47 arrives, kills Smith, and whisks Katia away telling her something crazy: she’s actually Agent 90 and genetically enhanced as well. Well, this has been some day! Together they form a team and go after daddy-o in Singapore with the not-quite-as-dead-as-they-thought Smith after them. They catch up with the terminally ill doctor and he reveals that 47 and Katia are. . . wait for it. . . brother and sister! But family reunions will have to be put on hold as the nasty Syndicate kidnaps the doctor and plans to torture the genetic details out of him.

The head of the Syndicate, Antoine LeClerq (Thomas Kretschmann), and the #1 man on the Agencies “gotta kill” list, revels in his capture, but it’s short lived as 47 and Katia storm the previously unstormable building fortress and waylay to his empire.

With a generic, but fun screenplay by Michale Finch and Skip Woods, this pure popcorn movie has all the silly elements you’d come to expect in any video game made into a movie. Preposterous gravity-defying car (and human) stunt work, second rate CGI effects, plot holes the size of Audi’s (the film’s main product placement sponsor), and ridiculous gaps in logic and gory killings. But director Aleksander Bach makes it work with a fast pace, some great stunts, and a nice sense of style. A generic plot, but not generic direction. Friend and Ware are wonderful and Quinto takes a break from his Spock role to be a badass.

Look for a quick cameo by Das Boot’s Jurgen Prochnow as a shady pawnbroker. BTW: The role of Agent 47 was to have been the late Paul Walker’s next role, if it wasn’t for his unfortunate accident.

 
The Mechanic (1972)
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Sure, there are a ton of movies about hitmen and hired assassins, but I like this one quite a bit. Starring the great granite-faced Charles Bronson and an up and coming young actor named Jan-Michael Vincent, this dynamite film about a contract killer who takes on a young protege is adventurous, scheming, and has one helluva ending.
 
Bronson is Mr. Arthur Bishop, a “mechanic” (assassin) that works exclusively for an international organization run by a mysterious man (Frank DeKova). Bishop is very sophisticated, listens to classical music, has an art collection, and is a connoisseur of fine wines. Besides being damn good at his job, he also lives alone, doesn’t show emotion, and suffers from work-related stress. He does have a hooker-friend (his real-life wife, Jill Ireland) that he goes to for relaxation.
 
After carrying out a contract for whacking his best friend, Harry McKenna (Keenan Wynn), he’s amazed to find out that Harry’s wild playboy son, Steve (Vincent), comes a’ callin’ with an odd and dangerous request. Make me a ‘mechanic’, like you!

Arthur, against his and the Organization’s better judgement, decides to take him on as a partner. . . on a trial basis. Steve is a quick learner and takes to killing and the tricks of the trade faster than Arthur anticipated. After a couple assignments that go sorta okay (not counting the occasional problems for a newbie), their next assignment is in beautiful Italy to assassinate a rich tycoon. However, Arthur makes a troubling discovery: Steve has a secret dossier on HIM! Worse yet, the contract in Italy turns out to be a set-up for the both of them! Uh-oh!

Steve decides he wants out and, while toasting his boss in their hotel room, Arthur is poisoned and drops dead. Smirking and telling Arthur that he’s gonna call the shots from now on, Steve returns home to Arthur’s palatial home and artwork, usurping his lifestyle and mechanic work. Or does he? I won’t give away the finale, but it’s SO freakin’ good, it garnered applause back in ’72 when I first saw it, and it STILL has an impact today.

Written by Louis John Carlino (who also directed/wrote The Great Santini), the screenplay is simple, even playful, in it’s depiction of assassination and the mechanics of how to carry it out. You got great chemistry between Vincent and Bronson, who added realism and depth to the story. Directed by Michael Winner, who directed nearly all of Bronson’s films, the movie is electric and tells a terrific story.

The kicker here is, the original script was laced with explicit gay overtones between the two leads. George C. Scott was hired at first to be Arthur Bishop, but refused when he read the first draft. The producers had to delete all traces of homosexuality in the script in order to find any actor, much to screenwriter Carlino’s disappointment. One only imagines how the other film might had turned out!

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