Blu-ray Review: Hitman: Agent 47

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If you're an action fan looking for a zippy fix—and you're in an extremely undemanding mood—then Hitman: Agent 47 just might do the trick. The movie is based on the Hitman video games and also serves as a reboot of the film franchise begun with Hitman in 2007. The overall reaction (including middling box office) might make an on-going franchise far less likely than distributor 20th Century Fox hoped for. Hitman: Agent 47 is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.

Truth be told, Agent 47 isn't quite the disaster that it's sub-ten percent Rotten Tomatoes rating would suggest. Rupert Friend is icily effective as the genetically-engineered titular character, more a bar-coded product rather than a full-fledged human being. He carries out hits as assigned by the International Contracts Agency without risk of ever being comprised by emotions. He searches for Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) with an single-minded drive that calls to mind Robert Patrick in T2.

Meanwhile, Katia is struggling with control of her own psyche (dealing with inexplicable mental disturbances with the aid of pharmaceuticals) as she searches for her father, Dr. Piotr Litvenko (Ciarán Hinds). Dr. Litvenko is the mastermind behind the cloning program that resulted in genetically superior agents like 47. As Katia evades the relentless 47, she meets and quickly bonds with the mysterious John Smith (Zachary Quinto). As the action ramps up, the relationships between characters gets all topsy-turvy. No need to explain—the plot twists provide the most fun elements of what is ultimately a rather routine action thriller.

First-time director Aleksander Bach keeps the pace surprisingly brisk. The film isn't likely to linger in the mind long after it ends, but again—for the least-demanding viewer—this one might kill 90 minutes fairly painlessly. 
Hitman Agent 47 (315x380).jpg Fox's Blu-ray offers a 1080p transfer that is every bit as eye-pleasing as any modestly-budgeted, studio-produced recent film. Edda Award-winning cinematographer Óttar Guðnason (A Little Trip To Heaven) should rest easy seeing as his sleek, glossy work looks crisp and colorful. Where Fox outdoes themselves is with a stellar DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround mix that's far more intricate than an also-ran like Agent 47 even needs.

Special features: the coolest thing is the Hitman: Agent 47 comic book, thoughtfully included as a physical copy tucked in the Blu-ray case (you can also access is digitally on the disc). There's even a little 'making of' video for the comic. There are a few minutes of deleted scenes, but mostly what we get are promotional-oriented featurettes. In fact, some are even listed as such. What does offer a slightly more detailed behind-the-scenes glimpse is "Ultimate Action: Staging the Fights." The "Hit Counter" might be of interest for the most devoted fans, keeping a running tally of the film's many deaths with some other information (storyboards and what looks like pre-viz footage) popping up as well.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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