Adrian Askarieh, the producer of the forthcoming blockbuster Agent 47 – based on the immensely popular Hitman video game series, has asked fans of the franchise to watch the film and give it a chance, before writing it off.
Speaking exclusively to HeyUGuys during a visit to London to promote the action thriller, Askarieh admitted that video game fans were guilty of being overly brutal, and not always in a way he would deem to be fair.
“I don’t read the fan forums, and even though I care deeply about what they think – because I’m a fan myself – most video game fans tend to be incredibly critical, over-critical, almost to a point of not being fair to the movie,” he said. “I really don’t know why they’re like this. Comic book fans, as critical as they are if you do something wrong or different to what they expect, they’re not as brutal as video game fans. Video game fans are, in some ways, hurting video game movies from getting made successfully. I’m not blaming them, but they’re not giving it a chance, they’re just ready to go at it.”
“So as a producer you can’t pay too much attention to that as it will drive you crazy. All you have to do is stay true to what the DNA of the character and the DNA of the property is, and bring that to a new cinematic experience, because they’re too different mediums. You can’t literally make the Hitman game into a movie, it will be a guy going from shadow to shadow choking people to death and then it would be over. You’ve got to encase it in some sort of cinematic experience,” he continued. “My dream would be to make a video game movie that thrills all video game fans – because I’m one of them. The only thing I would ask them, is to see the movie before you destroy it.”
Askarieh, who was also behind the preceding Hitman endeavour in 2007 – which starred Timothy Olyphant in the titular role – does admit he can see why fans of the video game series respond in this manner, given how personal an experience it can be.
“With video games you play as a character so you become that character,” he explained. “It’s a far more personal experience for the player than reading a comic book. Reading a comic book is looking at pictures and reading words – a video game, you’re playing as the character, you are Agent 47. You are Solid Snake, you are Lara Croft. So you have that possessory feeling towards the character, so when they’re taken and put in a movie, there is a bit of a ‘they can’t do that’ feeling, because they feel the character is them and belongs to them. But having said all of that, video games are as valid a source material as anything and I just hope fans with this one, and in the future, actually see them before attacking them.”
In regards to the future of video game adaptations, there are question marks as to whether it will become even more arduous a challenge given how blurry the line between the two mediums has become. Take the triumphant game Heavy Rain for instance – it’s effectively an immersive Se7en, with the gamer playing out a movie in their own living room – but Askarieh doesn’t feel that will make the task of bringing them to the silver screen any harder.
“I hope it benefits them, and makes them easier to adapt,” he said. “But, at the same time, the more cinematic the video game experience is, what is the reason to make a movie from it? But the good news is – you can always tell good stories, people want to go to movie theatres and share communal experiences and as long as we get terrific filmmakers and writers involved, a good movie is a good movie and will hopefully work.”
“It’s a tough character to translate because he’s genetically engineered to not feel anything and not have any remorse or emotion – so how do you bring that to the cinematic experience and have people root for him? But we all felt it was an interesting challenge and one way for us to solve it, was his origin.”
“It helps that I’m such a big fan of this character, I used to play it on PC. I only go after things I’m a fan of, ultimately you have to, because making movies is a very complicated and arduous experience so you can’t just do something because you wanna make a producer fee, that doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Rupert Friend does a fine job portraying this role with a level of cold-bloodiness, while all the while remaining somewhat empathetic and at times, even vulnerable. It was always a tough ask to step into the shoes of Paul Walker – who was attached before tragically passing away – and Askarieh explains they deliberately went down a different path after the upsetting news.
“First and foremost, we honestly weren’t thinking about the movie when Paul passed – we were devastated, as everybody was. It was shocking. But once time had passed and we realised we were moving forward with the movie, we wanted to go in a different direction and get a different type of actor, and Rupert was the best of the bunch.”
Friend is by no means the star of the show however, and despite the fact the eponymous protagonist is the name up in lights – it’s Hannah Ware’s Katia who is the true heartbeat of the movie – and Askarieh tells us that it’s about time more roles of this nature were given to women.
“I love it and I want more,” he said. “It’s about time. I really don’t understand why it comes and goes in cycles, it should be there, as prevalent as male driven action films. Look at Lucy last year with Scarlett Johansson, which was a monster success. I hope it’s here to stay and not a trend, and a mainstay of movies. I love smart, female protagonists and there’s no reason why we can’t have a female Jason Bourne type of movie – I would pay to see that.”
So what’s next for Askarieh? There may have been a rather lengthy gap for the producer between the previous Hitman picture and Agent 47 (with nothing in between), but it sounds like we may not have to wait so long again, as he has several projects on the go.
“Jonny Quest, fingers crossed, will go sometimes in 2016, while Kane & Lynch is on its way. All I can say is that there will be news about that in the next few weeks,” before adding, “My next one is Alien Sleeper Cell, which is an original script, more of a Jason Bourne vibe and tone, but an alien invasion movie. But no spaceships, no laser guns.”
We couldn’t resist asking whether there may be a sequel for Agent 47 in the works too – but that answer, of course, is all dependant on us.
“We want to do a sequel – but it all happens at the end of the day when all the box office settles,” Askarieh finished.
Hitman: Agent 47 is released in cinemas across the UK on August 27th.