Hitman: Agent 47 (15)
Verdict: Unoriginal, violent thriller
The warning comes at the end of the opening credits: Hitman: Agent 47 is a film based on a video game.
So prepare for preposterous, blood-spattered violence, in which bullet-riddled bodies plummet from balconies and bounce off things on the way down, just for an extra thrill.
Among the dozens of corpses there’s not much life in the dialogue, either. ‘You have 48 hours to terminate both targets,’ is not untypical.
So it is something of a surprise to find, in the title role, a shaven-headed Rupert Friend (pictured, right)), so classy as the conflicted CIA assassin Peter Quinn in the brilliant TV drama Homeland, and in fairness, pretty classy here, too, as the genetically programmed killer of the title, without creed or conscience.
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BRIAN VINER: The warning comes at the end of the opening credits: Hitman: Agent 47 is a film based on a video game. So prepare for preposterous, blood-spattered violence
It is just a shame that the film is as soulless as Agent 47 is, conforming to all the mediocre-thriller cliches (the action zips from Salzburg to Berlin to Singapore for next to no coherent reason) with little originality.
The story is beyond absurd. A clever scientist (Ciaran Hinds viz an accent) has worked out a way of engineering assassins (the dead giveaway is a barcode at the back of the neck) and now the secret is craved by a sinister Russian oligarch who, to get the formula, must first find a mysterious young woman called, or possibly not called, Katia van Drees (played by Hannah Ware, who is such a ringer for the Downton Abbey actress Jessica Brown Findlay that for the first half of the film I kept thinking how odd it was to find Lady Sybil fighting off psychopaths, as if Carson and his footmen had all gone mad).
The oligarch, incidentally, is head of a shadowy outfit called Syndicate International, a name which really tells you all you need to know about this film’s lack of imagination. At least there’s a certain ring to SMERSH and SPECTRE.
We Are Your Friends (15)
Verdict: More fun than you think
We Are Your Friends is about a world which interests me even less than that of genetically engineered killers — laptop-DJing in Los Angeles.
It stars Zac Efron, whose pretty face sits so unnervingly atop that pumped-up torso that it is always hard to take him seriously.
So I went with low-ish expectations, which for the first 20 minutes or so showed every sign of being met as one dude yo-duded another dude, only for the film to win me round, rather, with its sheer energy.
We Are Your Friends is about a world which interests me even less than that of genetically engineered killers — laptop-DJing in Los Angeles
It also has a twist that undermines its characters’ complacency about their self-indulgent LA lifestyle.
Efron plays Cole, a talented up-and-coming DJ who becomes the protege of a celebrated older DJ (Wes Bentley) and finds himself having to choose between his broke, layabout buddies and a promising music career.
Which will he choose? Can he, in fact, have both?
Finding out is more fun than you’d think.