*NEW* HITMAN: AGENT 47 REVIEW *NEW*

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Hit and miss.

The iconic video game assassin gets a second chance on the silver screen. BUT should they have even bothered?

An assassin (Rupert Friend) teams up with a woman (Hannah Ware) to help her find her father (Ciaran Hinds) and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry.

Unfortunately, it really does sound as dull as you think. There are only so many explosions and relentless CGI injected action sequences you can throw in to hide what was a tepid shoot em up.

After his stellar turn as Quinn in Homeland, Friend takes on the big screen and the iconic video game assassin. It’s fine to have the look but his stone cold pallor and dead pan delivery really did justice to the character. Shame, he didn’t have better lines.

The first twenty minutes zipped along with an ultra-brief but highly watchable overview of the hitman’s origins. Something that bugged me from the original feature. I don’t know why it would be such a problem to see the agent start out from the beginning.

Instead we had a disjointed and uninteresting back story involving one of his targets. Hannah Ware played the feisty Katiya well and was certainly a lot less irritating than Kurylenko in the original. BUT the more we delved into her past, the more plot holes there were. However by the end, I hardly had any interest left to care.

What didn’t help was that after a quick chat with some random and highly unmemorable character, Katiya would suddenly remember some completely unrelated event in the past that didn’t even involve her. It was either that or she would spout statistics like a pleb. It just didn’t work. It was a shame as Ware and Friend weren’t a bad pairing.

The fist fight and shoot em sequences were entertaining enough and subdued my griping when they arrived. BUT the car chases and finale were overlong and hampered by incredibly poor CGI. A sequence in which 47 tests Katiya’s abilities by strapping her to a jet engine (Yup. That sort of movie) was terrible. And the helicopter skyscraper showdown was just awful to look at.

It was just about watchable like its predecessor BUT seemed to suffer from virtually the same flaws. The dreadfully OTT score. The incredibly dark tone that took itself far too seriously for its own good.

It seemed to realise that after the hour marker and desperately tried to inject some much needed humour. There were a few one liners that lightened up all the brooding and endless staring intp space. In one scene, our bald bad ass is perusing a safe house location. Checking the closets.

“Looking for guns?”, asks the clueless Katiya.

Without a bat of an eye, our hero simply replies, “No. Moths. They’re attracted to the Italian wool”.

Unexpected BUT it got a guilty smile out of me. Pity, it was a case of too little, too late.

Ciaran Hinds was completely wasted in his role as Katiya’s father. He did his best with the hammy dialogue. BUT his character was so weak and cliched that he was fighting a losing battle from the get go.

Zachary Quinto played an incredibly bland villain. His double crossing was so predictable. You could time when he was going to strike. He only really got to unleash his inner Sylar in the closing minutes. Again, too little, too late.

The writers tried to pull off a Terminator vibe with 47’s machine like persona. He feels no pain, love and he will absolutely will not stop. Tragically, it didn’t quite come off but the nod to Leon was a nice little touch. Keeping his guns by his side as he slept.

I was impressed to see a few traits of the video games seep into this. The camera invasion stealth sequence reminded me so much of Hitman 2 (The only game of that franchise that I actually played and failed miserably at).

It was tough not to draw comparisons to the first feature. And that wasn’t perfect by any means. The only saving grace was Timothy Olyphant. Friend may have provided a different take but it felt like both actors’ interpretations were put in the wrong movies.

The far fetched stupidity of the plot made some of the sillier aspects of the video game franchise seem more believable. It is so wrong to actually steal the plots of the games and adapt them? Oh wait, no. That would make sense.

Third time’s the charm? Somehow I don’t think there will be. Another video game adaptation misfire to add to the pile.

Two stars. One for the two leads and one for the action sequences that did spike my interest.

2/5

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STARRED UP REVIEW

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Scum, this ain’t san. A slow hard boiled film that doesn’t deserve to be locked up and is reprieved by an unexpected brutal climax and a very talented cast.

It’s great to see low budget British films like this getting recognized and put out on the cinema circuit. We follow the incredibly volatile Eric Love (Jack Connell) as he is transferred to an adult prison and ends up in the same wing as his old man, the even more explosive Neville Love (Ben Mendelsohn). Director David Mackenzie excels at providing a grim look at the prison system. What starts as a good opener as we go through the check in procedure (strip search, etc) at the prison soon meanders along, bordering on a Porridge parody. I mean once Eric walks through one walkway, we don’t need to see several. Connell is fantastic and gives a stellar performance. His character to start with is very unlikeable as he goes out of his way to make trouble. But through his bravado and dominance, you can’t stop watching him. And once he meets his father, a fantastically creepy Mendelsohn, we soon get a better insight into Eric and see why he is the way he is. The only problem Connell has always excelled at playing the hard man. You can only worry that he will be type cast but if he plays the part so well, does it matter.

Starred Up is gritty, violent, at times brutal but beneath that, Mackenzie does try and make a statement about young offenders and the inner workings of the prison, providing an all too realistic insight. This is demonstrated perfectly in the “anger management” class sessions led by posho volunteer Oliver (another stand out performance from Rupert Friend – Quinn from Homeland). His unique style and questionable motives make for good viewing as he desperately tries to help the offenders, a well acted bunch of British bandits; David Ajala, Anthony Welsh, David Avery, Ashley Chin and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr. This is where the film stood out from all the usual Scum spiel that has been ripped off endlessly. Eric’s erratic behaviour is crazy, at times brutal and at one point, hilarious. But once he flies off the handle, the more times he does it and effs and blinds with some (granted) memorable quotes, it gets irritating but that is the point. That is why he is here. The sessions allow us to see his vulnerability and makes for some great moments and banter as he bonds with the class.

As we delve deeper into the prison, you see that not even the powers that be are any better. Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker) and Sian Breckin (recently featured in BBC’s Truckers) playing the shifty governors working and undoing Oliver’s work. However, where it excels in violence, testosterone, good characters and great acting, the film lacks in pace and stutters along. The hype helps draw attention but the first hour doesn’t justify it for me. However, the last half hour makes for crucial watching and redeems a film that was starting to lose my attention and questioned whether this should have been put on FilmFour as one of their TV movie premieres. However, it all seemed to be brewing up for one big climax (steady now) that is brilliantly done, compelling and endearing. All in all, a mixed bag but one of the better ones. The best prison film? Not for me san. But certainly not the worst. Mackenzie is definitely going to be one to watch for me now. 3.5/5

Currently ranks #48 out of 155!