1. Hitman: Agent 47 (Fox, 3,100 Theaters,96 Minutes, Rated R for sequences of strong violence, and some language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer rating: 8% Fresh [59 Reviews]: We have reached the dog days of summer, where the new releases are lackluster films studios shoot out in the hopes of making a quick buck. You can tell, because you can add all this week’s film’s Tomatometer scores and still barely make 50% Fresh. But these types of films are made on the cheap, and typically clock in at an hour and a half, so it is easier for them to make a profit this time of year.
This one is a rarity–a video game adaptation that has garnered a sequel. This time, Rupert Friend plays Agent 47, a man genetically altered from birth to become the ultimate assassin. Friend not only steps into the shoes of Timothy Olyphant, who played the character in the 2007 original, but also Paul Walker, who was cast in the lead but died before shooting began.
Agent 47 has uncovered a plot to create an army of killers just like him–only more powerful. In the process of stopping this plot, he’ll find out more about his mysterious background.
2. American Ultra (Lionsgate, 2,778 Theaters,95 Minutes, Rated R for strong bloody violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexual content, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer rating: 40% Fresh [83 Reviews]: Sadly, this is this weeks best bet, if only because its horrid reviews are less horrid than the other two films opening this week.
How do you freshen up the “secret agent marked for death their employers” genre? I don’t know, but I don’t think making the agent a stoner is the answer. That’s what happens here as Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) has been targeted as a liability, but his skills and drug-addled mind make him hard to kill.
Eisenberg reunites with his Adventureland co-star Kristen Stewart in this one, and I like both of them in that film. And it is written by Max Landis, who appears to be the reason why Chronicle was such a success. But the whole thing seems like flimsy window dressing put over a time-worn concept.
3. Sinister 2 (Focus Features, 2,766 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R for strong violence, bloody and disturbing images, and language, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer rating: 8% Fresh [40 Reviews]:The first Sinister only made $77 million worldwide, but since it only cost $3 to make, that makes it a massive hit. And since the concept is one that lends itself to sequels (a house is home to a demon who possesses small children and compels them to kill their parents in gory and macabre ways), the original getting a follow-up was a safe bet.
This film has a higher budget (all the way up to $10 million) but with none of the big names (Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio) returning. The only major return is James Ransone as Deputy So-and-So.
The movie focuses on a single mother who moves into the house with her twin sons. The demon gets his hooks into the kids, and the bloodshed begins.