Tuesday, 25 August 2015

REVIEW: Hitman - Agent 47

I'm hired and given a target, a man with good public reputation but with shadowy ties with mobsters. He is wealthy and well protected from threats, by staying in his villa with security guards, with beefed up alarm & intrusion system. I wander outside the villa for 10/15 minutes, finding ways to exploit the security by shutting it down, or simply avoiding it altogether. When I'm inside the villa, I can either finish off the target by doing it point blank range, or finding possible options to make the assassination looks like an accident, no one would notice a killer's presence. I see the man is preparing to swim, I make wiring leak near the pool and leave the scene soon after. Mission success, no one notice me at all.

That's the joy of playing Hitman franchise's games. You are an assassin, codenamed Agent 47, who is brutal, cold and calculated at assassinate targets given. Agent 47 is able to infiltrate and assassinate targets before anyone notice what is happening, by exploiting the number of options given. The feeling of finishing a mission with the highest score possible with any detection is really satisfying. Same can't be said for its latest movie adaption, Hitman: Agent 47.

Hitman: Agent 47 is adaptation of the Hitman video game franchise and is directed by Aleksander Bach. It starred Rupert Friend as the title character, Hanna Ware and Zachary Quinto. The story tells Agent 47 teams up with a woman to help her find her father and uncover the mysteries of her ancestry. Together, they aim to take down the leader of Syndicate International, a terrorist group based in Singapore.This is the director best work yet (sarcasm, just look at IMDB, I'm not wrong). The plot tries to be smart and it fails big time, it doesn't have any good sense and it feels dumb. When the movie promotional video, features how the director and producers trying to exploit Singapore's architecture landscape before any other Hollywood production without a slight mention to the franchise backstory, it is a red flag.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed certain part of the action sequences, for example when Agent 47 and Katia trying to get out of Changi Airport undetected, it was a glimpse of Hitman. However, my God, it is a pointless, gung-ho, shoot'em up movie that has very little resemblance to the Agent 47 we know. Aleksander Bach must be given the game to try to understand the game, but he ended up getting detected by every security guards and police possible and went all shootout with the authorities, because that what the movie feels like. At one of the scene, Agent 47 teaches Katia van Dees (Hannah Ware) on how to take on a group of Syndicate forces (the antagonist's organisation), by going head on and kill everyone they see. FOR GOD'S SAKE! AGENT 47 IS A SILENT ASSASSIN! NOT A TERMINATOR!!!

I am also very disappointed with Zachary Quinto. I am a big fan of his work since Heroes and Star Trek and his portrayal of henchman John Smith is his weakest work yet. It might be down to script issues with his characters and the possibility of him not suitable being a henchman for a villain. Not to mention that a lot of his stunts felt forced and fake-ish. Not only his stunts feel fake, a lot of the actors' action sequences are obviously done by stuntmen. The random mashup of different cuts are trying to hide the stuntmen, but it is still visible at times.

Then, it comes to the special effects. Sigh..., where do I start?! This could be one of the worst visual effects of 2015. The scene where Agent 47 driving down the car park, got chased by a bunch of henchmen on motorcycle is as fake as WWE's fight. When the car hits the motorcyclist, you can obviously spot the image being superimposed together without feeling natural. John Smith's Mercedes hit the barriers is worse than the games on my PlayStation. These are just two scenes of many.

In the year where we have two brilliant action movie in Mad Max: Fury Road and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Hitman: Agent 47 is against the odds from the start. However, Hitman: Agent 47 not only failed on being decent enough movie, it fails to be faithful to the source material. When the first failed Hitman adaptation being better than the new ones, it is clearly an incredibly bad movie. This add up with horrible special effects, just made the movie from bad to worse. Things are not looking good for video game adaptations. I haven't watched Fantastic Four and Pixels yet, but so far, Hitman: Agent 47 is the worst movie of 2015.

Score: 1.5/5

Friday, 7 August 2015

REVIEW: Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

"You may not like a person, but you can be the admirer of his work", that's how I feel about Tom Cruise. I am not a fan of him as a person, but I really do like the movies he worked on. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation further strengthened that belief, because he worked really hard to get the movie done and the end result is quite immense.

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation set up after the events of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team, Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) is on the find the existence of the Syndicate. However, before anything continues, Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) from CIA shut down the IMF. The team have been disbanded and Ethan Hunt has gone into hiding and gone rouge.

It's basically a very Mission Impossible-ish plot, yet still the movie feels very fresh even after the fifth installment. This is due to Christopher McQuarrie is the fifth director of Mission Impossible as many as the number of films. So, this makes each entry feels very fresh and each movie has its own audiences and fans.

The action sequence itself is the highlight of the show, with Tom Cruise himself doing all the crazy stunts without the use of a stuntman. This makes the action sequences feel very real because the actors are feeling all the stress and tension, these feelings are directly felt by the audience because we all the action shots are all real. The scenes did feel slow and dragged out in between the action sequences, as the script doesn't seem to know how to move the story at a smoother manner. Other than that, the movie is rock solid.

Tom Cruise, say what you want about his personal life, I personally don't like his real persona, but his movies are really enjoyable. I mean, he really strapped himself onto the plane during takeoff and take a deep dive during crucial action sequences, The reason he does that because by using real actors, we all with immersed with the movie, and he's right, Mission Impossible feels a lot better than action movie these days because it felt real, not some stuntmen strap on with makeups.

Beside Cruise, Simon Pegg as Benji is as funny as ever, with himself have more action chops this time around, which is great to see. Ving Rhames is back and make it a lot better. Jeremy Renner, who is my sister's personal favourite, is back this time around once again as William Brandt, the character has given more comical relief which is weird at first, but makes sense in the end. Rebecca Ferguson as Syndicate operative, Ilsa Faust is both masculine and feminine as well, even though her character is inconsistent. Alec Baldwin's character as Alan Hunley is just an introduction, and an interesting one. It's excited to see where they will bring the character forward in the future.

However, the main problem with Rogue Nation is the villain. Once again, Rogue Nation suffers the issue of weak villains, like previous Mission Impossible and other movies. Sean Harris as Solomon Lane isn't intimidating or pose enough a threat to IMF and he is easily played by other characters in the film. I'm not sure what it is, is it today's society can't accept a proper villain, because villains usually are not suitable to the politically correct audiences.

That being said, Mission Impossible is another solid entry of the Mission Impossible franchise, Tom Cruise and co. is able to keep the franchise fresh after so many years is something worth applauding. Not many series can get consistent, let alone getting better, but Mission Impossible managed to pull it off. If you're into action movies with espionage themed, it is worth a recommendation. It is a blast!

P.S. Kuala Lumpur made a cameo!

Score: 4.5/5