(BIG TIME spoilers follow. Ye be warned) When I first heard about Hitman being adapted into a movie, I immediately thought, “Oh CRAP, not another video-game movie! When will studios learn that these things do not work!” I wasn’t planning on seeing this, but my older cousin Ryan loves this game and has been eagerly anticipating the movie. I haven’t seen him in ages, so I figured it’d be a good way to hang with him over the Thanksgiving holiday while fulfilling my duties as queen of StalePopcorn (plus he was paying). I wish you could have been outside my grandmother’s house when this guy pulled up in his car to pick me up, dressed in full Agent 47 regalia(suit, tie, gloves, all of it except for a shaved head). So, was the movie as good as he hoped, or was it yet another half-assed video-game movie?
I have to say, Hitman is, by far, the tastiest shit sandwich I’ve eaten all year. Make no mistake, this is not a great movie, yet I wasn’t ready to claw my eyes out of my head, either. It could have been much worse, but it could have been much better, and the most frustrating thing is that I could see the potential for a great flick rearing its head every once in a while. The film starts out pretty well. I dug the opening credits sequence set to that damn “Ave Maria” song we’ve heard in all of the trailers. It was a nice juxtaposition between the religious song and the visuals showing 47’s childhood assassin lessons. The movie STARTS out well, but the rest is a decidedly mixed bag.
Basic plot overview: Honestly, in a flick like this, the plot isn’t really necessary, but here goes. 47 is sent on a mission to take out the Russian prez, which he believes that he does. His agency tells him to go take out a witness to this assassination attempt, a piece-of-ass named Nika(Olga Kurylenko), but when she looks at him with no recognition in her eyes, 47 knows she’s not a witness and doesn’t cap her. When the supposedly dead guy shows up on TV later the same day, very much alive, 47 knows he’s been set up and goes looking for answers. The film’s story is so goddamn laughable that I cannot put it into words. This thing has massive plot holes that Optimus Prime could drive through. Mike(Dougray Scott), the Interpol inspector hot on 47’s heels, keeps calling him a “ghost” and makes reference to how difficult he is to find. Yet, several scenes in this film showcase just how much 47 sticks out in a crowd. For fuck’s sake, 9 times out of 10, he’s the tallest guy in the room, he’s got a shiny bald head, his clothing is very distinctive, and he’s got a DAMN BARCODE TATTOED ONTO THE BACK OF HIS HEAD! How can you not spot him?! Also, 47’s guns all have silencers on them, yet when fired, the gunshots bang loud and clear. Were the silencers malfunctioning or something?
Let’s chat about the actors, huh? I have to say, everyone in this film fades into the background save for two, so they are the only ones worth mentioning in this review. First and foremost: Timothy Olyphant is no Agent 47. From his first scene, he convinced me that he was all wrong for this role. He’s supposed to be this scary mofo, but his way of showing his badassness is to make a pouty-mad face. Jeez, I look scarier when Aunt Flo comes to visit. Hell, my cousin looked more intimidating in his 47 getup than Olyphant did. Olyphant looked good in the suit, I’ll give him that. I could never fully buy him as 47, which hurt the film a bit. I also had a little bit of a problem with just how monotone he is during the film. I’ve never played any of the games, so if 47 is supposed to be bland and monotone, then Olyphant(every time I type that name, I think of those animals from Pelennor Fields in Return of the King) pulled off his role to absolute perfection. He does warm up a little bit over the course of the film, but for the most part, he’s wooden as hell. There are some aspects of 47’s character that Pelennor Fields did well. For reasons that are never explained in the movie, 47 gets freaked out around women. Really freaked out. He’s either asexual, gay, or a Star Wars fan. In one quick shot, we see him reading a magazine article called “Men’s Guide to Women”. I guess that article comes in handy when he gets thrown into the mix with a hot(HOT) hooker named Nika.
I usually despise token sluts in action films, but Olga Kurylenko plays Nika with just enough spunk to get me to like her. To my surprise, the best stuff in the film involved 47’s growing attachment to her. Now, don’t get me wrong, the two of them don’t go running in a field of daisies. They never even get it on(not that she doesn’t try her little heart out to get him in the sack) but they have definite chemistry. The film noticeably perks up during scenes where the two of them are together. I liked that the film at least tried to give a reason as to why 47 would feel something for her. He seems himself in her. She’s a hooker, viewed as property, much like he is viewed as property of his organization. They both have distinctive tattoos. The only times that Pelennor Fields shows a bit of spark in his performance is when he is combating Nika’s sexual come-ons. I liked the little exchange they have in his car concerning his luggage. There’s also a great little exchange that the two of them have over dinner where she quizzes him on how observant he is of the people in the restaurant(“What’s the soup of the day?” “What’s the lady two tables behind you wearing?” ) that has a punchline reminiscent of the first Superman movie where Lois asks Supes an intimate question(except the answer here is much racier). Speaking of perking up, this girl is half-naked in at least two scenes in the movie, and every time she paraded about nude, cousin 47 sitting next to me let out a long whistle. Even Pelennor Fields was reduced to staring admiringly at her in one scene. This girl is beautiful, but if the movie had been a bit better, she could have really shined here. Most action flicks suffer from having too much of the token slut in the script, but I believe that this film would have been better served if they’d spent MORE time with 47/Nika’s relationship. Their chemistry is that good, and the bond between the two of them might have added a bit more meaning to the action sequences.
Speaking of the action sequences…a film like this lives or dies on its action, and Hitman is dead on arrival in that department. I don’t know who the choreographer for the fights was, but I have a message for him: POINTING GUNS AND FIRING THEM DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN ACTION SEQUENCE. The action in this film is pretty shittily handled. The biggest offender is a fight on a subway train that had cousin 47 and myself saying “WHAT?!” in perfect unison. 47 storms an empty train where there are three men from his organization (48,49, and 50, I guess) waiting for him. They’ve all got their guns, one in each hand, aimed at each other John Woo-style. I was half-expecting a dove to come flying by. Do they shoot it out? Nope. What happens next is probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen since…well, ever. 47 declares oh-so-dramatically, “Do you want to die with dignity?” They all slowly nod their heads yes and then…unclip the magazines on their guns simultaneously, drop the guns to the ground and(wait for it!) whip out SAMURAI SWORDS THAT THEY ALL HAVE CONVENIENTLY STORED INSIDE THEIR JACKETS! Even worse, the ensuing sword fight was edited down into quick cuts to hide Pelennor Fields’s lack of fighting ability. I kid you not, I started to count how long each shot lasted, and the longest one I counted was two seconds long. Two. Seconds. Long. Hell, even Bay can hold a shot longer than that! There is one shootout midway through the film that felt like a damn video-game(appropriate considering the source material). Cash is falling from the sky as Pelennor Fields unloads with a machine gun in each hand. Once again, the good guy has exceptional aim, yet the bad guys expend tons of ammo without so much as grazing the good guy’s skin.
Like I said above, I’m not a fan of the game, but cousin 47 is, so I asked him to contribute a bit to this review so you could have the perspective of a die-hard fan. Here’s what he had to say: “It is the best video game movie yet, but that isn’t saying very much. Olyphant did as well as he could, but they should have gotten someone older to play 47. He’s way too young. And damn, that Nika chick was HOT!! There’s some good nods to the game in the movie that I liked. I was glad that they got Diana in the movie, and there’s even a shot of some kids in a hotel playing the Hitman game as 47 comes crashing through their window. I wish they’d gone into more about 47’s background and why he acts so weird around females. The action was shit. Also, all the stuff about 47 being hired by the church or whoever it was in the trailer, that Sinner/Saint shit, it wasn’t in the movie at all. Was it cut, or did it never exist to begin with? That had me confused during the movie as to who exactly 47 was working for. The quick cuts and shaky cam was awful, and the movie wasn’t very exciting at all. It wasn’t godawful, but it could have been much better. I’d give it a 5/10.”
He’s basically on the same page as I am. It wasn’t an absolutely horrible movie, but this thing had real potential, and that makes this even more frustrating that it would have been if the film was just total shit. The movie isn’t very exciting or involving, the action is horrible, Pelennor Fields almost put me to sleep at times, but the stuff with 47 and Nika is pretty good. As good as they are together, they couldn’t save this film. If they do make a sequel(and if the movie makes its budget back, they will), I hope they get a better fight choreographer and a script that can showcase 47/Nika and some kickass action. This movie could have been a hip cousin of The Bourne Identity, but turns out to highlight everything that flick did right and everything this film did wrong.