September

Starring Tim Olyphant, Dougray Scott and Olga Kurylenko. Directed by Xavier Gens
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rated: Rated MA 15+ (very strong violence, coarse language, nudity)

Based on video games with variations of the same name, the title star is known only as Agent 47 (Tim Olyphant). He seems to have been genetically-modified while still a boy in a Catholic orphanage (more on that in a moment). He now works for a mysterious organization called The Agency. Programmed to be a ruthless killing machine, he is considered the best of his class. Trailed for years by a relentless Interpol agent (Dougray Scott), Agent 47 has, up to now, evaded apprehension and even being photographed.

His latest assignment is to assassinate a power-hungry Russian politician who wants to eliminate his opposition so he came assume the presidency. His assignment is not just complicated because of Interpol, but also because The Agency has double crossed him and puts a bounty on his head. Then there is the mandatory love interest, with 47 falling for Nika (Olga Kurylenko), a beautiful Russian woman in prostitution.

This film will have limited appeal to a wide audience. If the graphic and prolonged violence does not count you out, the poor acting should. The principal cast members are decent enough with the limited material with which they have to work, but the some of the supporting cast is lamentable. The story is derivative, predictable and absurd.

Most affronting to Catholic viewers, however, will be the opening title sequence. Agent 47's back story is outlined, as the sound track roars a funky version of Schubert's "Ave Maria'. In this flashback sequence, Agent 47 seems to be an orphan child who is in some type of institution, be it a monastery or orphanage.

While the Hail Mary is sung, men dressed as monks abuse mini-47, shave his head, perform some sort of neurological operation on him, and leave him with a bar code tattooed on the back of his scalp.

As the film progresses we meet other agents with similar hairstyles and bar codes, so we are left to conclude they were inmates of the same evil monastic enclosure. What is left out of the ensuing film is any explanation of this introduction. It is laid before us and that's that.

I guess that writer Skip Woods and director Xavier Gens thought exploiting the real suffering of some children who were abused while in the church's care, was a legitimate hook for their violent fantasy. This is indefensible on every level.

But we should not expect too much from filmmakers that are so lazy that while the film is set today, they type up on the screen "Russian Border - Turkey', when Russia and Turkey do not share a border at all. The old USSR did, and Georgia does now.

Furthermore, while a good deal of the film is set in Russia, much of it was filmed in Bulgaria. How do we know that? Many of the supposedly Russian road and other signs are in Bulgarian, not Russian.

Do yourself a favour and hit the Hitman for six.

20th Century Fox Out 6th December

Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting