There was a time when director Xavier Gens' Hitman video game movie looked to become the first chapter in a new franchise, but the proposed sequel to the action film - a critical bomb that performed so-so in terms of box office - never got off the ground. It's probably all for the best, though, as Hitman lead Timothy Olyphant went on to star in FX's acclaimed neo-western TV series Justified instead, while 20th Century Fox has decided to reboot the property with the upcoming Agent 47.
Paul Walker was originally going to headline Agent 47, but following his death the Fast & the Furious actor was replaced by Rupert Friend, who is currently known for playing the effective (if also somewhat tempestuous) black ops agent Peter Quinn on Showtime's Homeland series. Production on the video game film adaptation will be fully underway in Berlin within the next week (before the shoot moves to Singapore), which accounts for why the first image of Friend on-set as the eponymous operative has suddenly popped up online.
No plot details have been made official yet, but previous reports indicated that Agent 47 follows the title character - a genetically-engineered individual trained as an elite assassin since a very early age - as he strives to protect a waitress (who's more than she seems on the surface) from a mysterious group known as the Syndicate. Hannah Ware (Boss) plays the mysterious female lead in the Hitman re-do, while Star Trek's Zachary Quinto will costar in an (as yet) undisclosed role - one that may well be an antagonist, which would be welcome news for fans of the actor's villainous turns on the TV series Heroes and the second season of American Horror Story (a.k.a. Asylum).
IGN has the first image of Friend dressed in costume as Agent 47; there's nothing all that revolutionary about his look - the shaven head and dress suit with red tie is par for the course for the video game character - which may (or may not) signal that the Hitman movie reboot won't be a radical departure and/or re-envisioning of the gaming property that inspired it (given the generic plot, though, it might be best to keep expectations low for this one).
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Agent 47 is based on a script credited to Machete Kills co-writer Kyle Ward (who was originally hired to pen Hitman 2), along with Michael Finch (Predators) and Hitman screenwriter Skip Woods (A Good Day to Die Hard). Commercial director Aleksander Bach is making his feature directorial debut on this project, which - judging by the (not exactly stellar) pedigree of the writers involved - is aiming strictly for the same pulpy action B-movie territory as its predecessor; whether or not it will be an improvement in terms of quality, that's another matter.
The scenario in which Agent 47 takes advantage of its strong acting leads - by positioning Friend's character against Quinto as the antagonist - sounds like the kind of promising maneuver that could elevate this particular multi-platform project - into something more than instantly-disposable video game cinema junk, that is. Be sure and let us know if you agree/disagree (or your thoughts/feelings about the Hitman franchise in general), in the comments section.
We'll let you know when Agent 47 gets an official release date.