Pretty Crazy, Huh?
Like a moth drawn to a flame, so too am I inevitably drawn towards movies with low tomatometer scores. Now that we’ve just about hit the September slump for movies, I had quite the selection to choose from this weekend.
There are three types of bad movies. Movies that are intentionally made to be bad, movies that were made in earnest that turn out bad, and Agent 47.
I put Agent 47 in a category of its own because it does such a damn good job at being a bad movie. It somehow found the perfect mix of terrible dialogue, non-sequiturs, half-assed homages to classic movies, and a consistent tone that takes itself incredibly seriously. It’s the best worst movie I’ve ever seen, and I honestly mean that.
Yes, in case you were wondering, there was another Hitman movie based on the video game of the same name that came out back in 2007. No, these films aren’t related. Knowing that a direct sequel to the lukewarm Hitman movie would be a box office disaster, Fox wisely decided to do a soft reboot of the series that employed the same writer instead. For what it’s worth they were definitely successful, but in the precise opposite way they intended.
Most movies that are notorious for being bad usually end up being incredibly dull or painful to watch, but Agent 47 almost masterfully avoids any of these pitfalls. It’s fitfully entertaining from start to finish in a way that seems entirely intentional. The film is downright incompetent when it comes to telling a story or giving us action with any sort of tension, but somehow these two faults come together to form a greater whole. I was actually excited to see what happened next. I’m not joking.
At its core, the film is a mashup of Terminator and The Matrix, if both of those movies didn’t have a script and lacked the budget to provide thrilling action sequences. On a side note, I guess stunt doubles are out of a job because every thrown body or crashed car in this movie is entirely computer generated.
The Terminator theme is actually a pretty good way to frame the film. Agent 47 (Rupert Friend) is tracking down Katia (Hannah Ware), a woman on the run in search of some guy for a reason she admits she doesn’t understand. John Smith (Zachary Quinto) finds her first, and protects her from the agent. The setup could have led to some deliciously tense moments in the hands of a different director or series, but Agent 47 lacks any sort of gravitas or menace which creates some of the most absurd moments of the film. He wanders in and out of scenes looking like Slender Man wearing an oversized suit and has a nasty habit of making the camera film him in slow motion for no particular reason. Imagine if Arnold Schwarzenegger randomly struck a vaguely familiar pose at the end of every scene and you have a pretty good picture of how this is all handled.
Of course, the movie wastes no time pulling another page from Terminator 2 and swaps the roles of Agent 47 and John Smith, whose both primary functions are to be unkillable and dispense an ungodly amount of exposition on Katia, who will blindly follow anyone who baits her with information about the man she is after.
Plot aside, the film stays engaging thanks to a large amount of non-sequiturs and half-assed homages. In one moment a character is kidnapped and tied to a chair, the next that character is being sucked into a jet turbine as part of an on the spot training exercise. In probably my favorite sequence of the film, Agent 47 is intentionally captured because he walked through a metal detector with all his weapons (haha, yeah from that movie). While he is being interrogated, the chief of security, in an attempt to intimidate the agent, puts one of the confiscated guns on the table and loads it with a round. Agent 47 then thanks the security chief for providing his means for escape, kicks the table, which causes the gun to fire, which he expertly aims at his handcuffs, which then sets him free.
It is implied he planned all of this.
And in case you forgot the movie was based on a video game, there’s an extended sequence where Katia has to avoid security cameras in an airport. It was a fun sequence only because I knew it was a movie trying to be a videogame and the naivete in which the entire sequence was shot was borderline hysterical. Avoiding cameras in a stealth video game is one of the most rote gameplay mechanics out there and to see it put to film is to blow your film’s budget on an expensive Mega64 sketch.
Then there’s a ten minute Audi commercial that finances the final stretch of the film, in which it summarily checks off the rest of the cliche story beats. We’re reminded that machines can learn how to love and we’re set up for a sequel by the old presumed-dead-guy opens up his eyes trick.
So go see Agent 47. Seriously. It’s a great bad film. One of the best, honestly. Bring a friend, sink down in your seats, let out a few giggles. Never boring, expertly unpredictable, and earnest to the last round of gunfire, Agent 47 trips over the bar that was set so low and stumbles into a genre all to itself.
Steve is a terminator sent back to fight Agent 47 and you can follow him on Twitter @Driver194