Katia (Ware) is a loner, searching for answers she hopes will be found once she tracks down her long lost father. After rattling off what might be the most vague description of a man ever, she leaves the harassed clerk of a records management building in Berlin in frustration because “man in his 40s with brown hair” didn’t exactly open the floodgates of information. Not long after, she meets John Smith (Quinto), who convinces her that an elite assassin by the name of Agent 47 (Friend) has been contracted by “The Syndicate” to kill her as well as her father, who is apparently the only person on the planet who knows how to make more of “the perfect agent”. In the meantime, Agent 47 shows up and starts wiping out mass quantities of trained combat fighters to get to her.
Leading character with troubled past and poorly masked substance abuse, check. Obvious antagonist in sheep’s clothing, with endless luck when it comes to right-place-right-time right as trouble finds the protagonist, check. Mysterious Hitman who is level 100 at being badass but lacks empathy and companionship (and the need to eat, apparently), check. All protagonists have predictable character development, and despite the dimensions that all three of the leading stars make an honest effort to give to their respective roles, there is only so much you can do as a brilliant actor in an unfortunate screenplay.
Now, it is worth noting that with all of the shortcomings of this movie, there are still moments of excellence, starting with the way that Quinto and Friend carry out fight scenes together. We learned that in preparation for the film, Quinto and Friend were intentionally trained in two completely different methods of fighting, and were not able to practice together until filming of the fight scenes began. Both used these skills to execute elaborate choreography that is highly engaging to watch, due to the contrast of the fighting styles, and all of the fights were backed by music that heightened the intensity of the scenes while creating that tense buildup that great music in film often does.
Additionally, as bewildering as the dialogue was, it’s of great commendation to the cast in how they make the most of an unfortunate script and unstable plot. Ware plays the character of Katia well, especially in the more subtle aspects of her demeanour – in particular when it comes to expressing anger and loss, and additionally when consistent and justifiable wariness of Agent 47 is needed. Friend matches his co-star at every turn, giving a bit more feeling and depth to the assassin, who is portrayed as a cold blooded killer with little time for emotion in the video game series.
If you can ignore the possibility that there is a really good chance all of the characters are having two completely different conversations with each other at the same time, and choose instead to focus on the fantastic choreography and its symbiotic relationship to the crunchy music that weaves foley and electro quite wonderfully, you may just leave feeling as though you’ve made the right choice seeing this picture. However, it’s somewhat more likely you’ll leave baffled as to how such a talented cast appeared in such a badly written movie. But then The Incredible Hulk, springs to mind. It happens.