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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Hitman: Agent 47

Where Are the Women? Hitman Agent 47

If only the (male) director had resisted treating the female coprotagonist as a decorative object, this movie could have remained in the green.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: +10

+10
Is there a female character with significant screen time who grows, changes, and/or learns something over the course of the story? (for an ensemble cast, or a film with a male protagonist) [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

+1
Is there a female character with insignificant screen time in a position of authority? [why this matters]


+2
Is there a woman whose role could easily have been played by a man? [why this matters]
+2
More than one? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a woman who is kidnapped (either onscreen or off) whose kidnap motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: -15

-5
Is a woman or women used as decorative objects/set dressing? [why this matters]
-10
Are one or more either a protagonist or significant supporting character? [why this matters]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

[no issues]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

No.

TOTAL SCORE: -5

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: If only the (male) director had resisted treating the female coprotagonist as a decorative object, this movie could have remained in the green. But it seems that some filmmakers simply don’t know how to present women onscreen unless they’re “sexy” disembodied body parts.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Hitman: Agent 47! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Hitman: Agent 47.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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  • RogerBW

    Women In Video Games: “oh no, we have to model a different shape!”

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  • Keith Zubot-Gephart

    The irony here too is that the games themselves (no idea if the movie picks up on this thread) have the protagonist as not merely asexual but outright repulsed by sexuality; so many men and women in the levels are grotesque caricatures that imply the way Agent 47 sees us mainline-humans. It’s kindof an interesting thread that the games have going, having the characters other than Agent 47 objectified in a literal sense but by no means considered desirable, rather the idea that they could be is treated as the unsettlingly alien thing about them (and this does apply to the men too, who often seem in the vein of the cliched and cartoonish Euro-Lothario).

  • There’s nothing like that going on the film. Though at least 47 does not appear to be sexually attracted to the female coprotagonist, as you’d sort of expect from this sort of movie, like *of course* there has to be a sex scene between them. (I always think of the studio exec in *The Player,* whose only question about the serious prestige drama he’s just been pitched is, “Do they fuck?” of the male hero and the woman he comes to the rescue of.

    ** SPOILER **

    (Though in this case, 47’s apparent lack of interest in her could in part be because it is implied that she is his sister, either actually, in a biological sense, or in a figurative way that would amount to the same thing in the minds of many people that might act as a turnoff; ie, they were raised together for a while.)

    END SPOILER

    No, the objectification here does not come via 47’s POV, but the omniscient camera’s: the female coprotagonist becomes a “sexy” headless body in the shower, or descending into a swimming pool. It’s not as bad as it could be — it’s more the suggestion of womanly curves rather than outright nudity (there are no bare breasts or asses). But given when you’ve just said about the source material, this could be the director doing what he could to get some “sexy” onscreen.

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