Hitman was released in theaters in late 2007 and was based off the popular Hitman video game series. There have been four Hitman games made so far, but none since 2006. Kind of surprising they didn't try to time another game for the film release, and even more surprising that there hasn't been a sequel in three years. Hitman the movie stars Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Robert Knepper, and Olga Kurylenko.
This is my first movie review on a real video game based movie, while The Last Starfighter is full of corn and charm, Hitman attempts to be a serious imagining of game to film. I'm not really that familiar with the series, unfortunately. I've played the second one, Silent Assassin, a bit, but mostly just watched my roommate in college sneak through it. I love the concept though so was excited to get Hitman in the mail the other night. Nothing formal, just some things I noticed.
Hitman features Agent 47, a covert assassin for the Agency. Agent 47 is sent on missions around the world to take care of business. In the film, our anti-hero is told to kill the Russian president, Mikhail Belicoff. Agent 47 snipes him from a few miles away straight through the forehead and then blows up his rifle. Agent 47 is extremely well trained and knows how to kill, walk out, and cover his tracks without thinking twice. It's pretty entertaining watching him prepare for any and all situations. In one scene, he walks out onto his hotel balcony, checks a rope, and then walks back inside. Ten minutes later his room is being broken into by the Russian Secret Police and he flies off the balcony at high speed grabbing the rope. This kind of preparation and execution is done throughout the movie and you're always wondering exactly how this will work into the next big action scene.
The video game series is controversially recognized for its realistic assassinations and copious amounts of violence. The movie continues this tradition, and because violence in any amount is much more acceptable on the big screen, we get a lot of it. In probably the most memorable scene of the movie, Agent 47 blows off someones head from four miles away with a sniper rifle. The splatter is huge and covers the surrounding people who look a bit funny with brains all over them. And while he doesn't use his trademark strangling garrote wire anywhere, we get to see Agent 47 in an entertaining short sword fight with three other Agents. While the choreography wasn't the greatest during the fight, it had its fair share of bloody moments that would have made your date cringe. Agent 47 doesn't feel any remorse for anyone in the way of him and his goal, so many people are gunned down during the film. It can be a little tough watching all the point blank deaths, but the movie moves at a quick enough pace to keep your mind distracted. Also, don't worry about getting C4 stuffed down your throat, worry about it blowing up!
During the big sniper scene that I mentioned above, my mind brought me back to when I used to play Spycraft: The Great Game. This was an entertaining point and click adventure game where one level had you trying to figure out who took the sniper shot that blew away a politician's head (and they showed the death in full-motion video - awesome for the mid '90s!). Anyways, back to Hitman.
I'm sure this has been discussed to death, but what was up with Vin Diesel being an executive producer on the film and not acting as Agent 47? I think he would have been the best actor for the job, followed by Jason Statham. Those are two guys who look great bald and could have pulled off the role amazingly. Instead, we get Timothy Olyphant, not necessarily bad in the role, but he looks awkward during the fight scenes and even more awkward when trying to sound angry. I never felt comfortable with him as the lead, don't know if I would feel better or even worse if I had been more familiar with the games and the character. Also, this guy is 40 years old, he looks like he's 25, poor guy.
Olga Kurylenko plays the gorgeous Nika Boronina, a prostitute who's main client is unfortunately the angry Russian President. In one disturbing scene, she's shown bare-naked hanging from the ceiling getting flogged while several men look on. Luckily for the viewer though, she's shown in the nude a couple other times in much more pleasant situations.
Robert Knepper is one of my favorite actors, he plays the bad guy as well as anyone else (see: Tea Bag - Prison Break). His screen time is a bit limited in Hitman if you ask me, and he's never really shown doing anything truly evil. Plus he's sporting a heavy Russian accent which is a bit distracting having seen him in so many other roles.
I hope the writing in the four Hitman games was better than the film, otherwise I don't think I would bother to finish any of the games! The story was all over the place, with tons of seemingly uneccesary scenes as I look back. Like, what was the point of the opening sequence in Niger? Just to show how ruthless Agent 47 is? Also, there's a very long setup to kill some guy in a bathroom that doesn't seem to fit in the overall plot. While the scene is probably one the best representations of the freedom the video games give the player (plant a gun, drug the guy's drink so he has to go to the bathroom, follow him, retrieve gun, the rest is history), I simply don't know why he bothered killing him. The only thing I can figure out is that Agent 47 ends up impersonating the man to get into a weapons deal, but it seems like a lot of work for nothing.
But it's an action movie, so I guess I wasn't expecting much, though sometimes it is nice seeing some coherence. I think they should have paid attention to the video game series more, there was some inspiration in the restaurant bathroom kill, but everything else just seemed like near mindless killing. I'd like to have seen more setup and clever execution.
One thing I read is that the opening credits montage showing a bunch of kids going through gun training and getting barcodes tattooed onto their was actually borrowed from the Dark Angel TV series. It seemed like it fit the movie perfectly! Props to whomever found that and saved some dough.
One of the Hitman games makes a cameo appearance early on in the movie. Agent 47 crashes through a window and two kids are sitting inches from the TV which is clearly showing Agent 47. The camera holds on the TV and kids for what seems like minutes, as if we wouldn't get it if it wasn't burned into the screen. Honestly though, I don't have anything against these cameos, and now I'm curious if this is the first video game adaptation to do it?
There's the common belief that video game adaptations simply aren't good and are doomed to fail, I don't necessarily adhere to that. For one, 90% of everything is crap, so of course, 90% of video game movies are going to be crap. In the grand scheme of things, Hitman falls into this 90% bucket, but it's still worth watching for fans of the series and anyone who likes action movies. There's some good violence and nudity, but the story is a bit muddled, pretty much what I expected. Check it out if you're a fan of Agent 47.