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Now I have never played nor really heard anything about the video game for which Hitman is based off of. Besides the whole “hitman” aspect, I guess it is a first-person shooter and pretty popular. Right now, the only reference I have is of the screenshot used in the film, (honestly was that type of nod really necessary?), but from that it seems they at least got the title character’s look down. As for the rest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually gets everything right. By no means is this a great movie. However, when it comes to action packed adrenaline rushes you can do a lot worse. Right from the get-go, following a brief yet thorough backstory montage during the opening titles, we are thrust into Agent 47’s world of violence and intrigue and the gas is never let up. Flaws abound, but the fact that the fun never does and that you become somewhat enthralled with the story to see how it all turns out, I will have to say, as far as videogame adaptations go, this is an entertaining entry to the genre.

It all revolves around a plot to get the president of Russia killed and replaced by a double in cahoots with the country’s secret police. Agent 47 is hired as an outsider to take the fall and pressure away from the switch occurring right before the public’s eyes. That’s truly about all you need to know as the plot takes a major backseat to our hitman’s trek for vengeance and answers as to why he’s been sold out. No one cares whether the situation in Russia gets worked out; we just want to see our anti-hero wreak havoc as he is out-numbered by never out-prepared. There is some downtime throughout, but never lasting too long, we are treated with pretty much wall-to-wall action. From the fight at the train station, (at one point hand-to-hand as they are crouched down in a confined space), to the all-out assault on a black market gun meeting, explosions and fists are everywhere. Also, don’t be surprised by the amount of blood used. Every gunshot has an exit wound, without exception—something I’m guessing is a constant in the games as well.

While I am a huge Timothy Olyphant fan, I find myself thinking that he might have been miscast as Agent 47. The thing about him is his snide humor that goes into every role, whether it a drug dealer (Go), a pimp (The Girl Next Door), or wild-west sheriff (“Deadwood”) he is a master at walking the edge of brutal malice and sarcastic wit. He is given the ability to do that here as well, but it just doesn’t quite fit with the character in my opinion, again that of a novice who’s unfamiliar with the game. It is just that being such a robotic killing machine, one who has no desire to even kiss the gorgeous Olga Kurylenko let alone sleep with her, makes the humor seem forced. The dry delivery almost reminds me of the awkwardness of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character in T2. It is a foreign emotion and makes me laugh more at the role than the words he is saying. This is a minor gripe to an otherwise great action performance. I just hope that Olyphant doesn’t start taking these lead hero roles and sticks to his bread-and-butter supporting turns that he is so good at.

All the other actors do very good work as well, something that is not commonly seen in videogame flicks either. Dougray Scott is the consummate Interpol agent, sacrificing everything in order to close the case that he’s been working on for over three years. He and his partner, played nicely by Michael Offei, work well together as they walk through what they are seeing and anticipate 47’s next move. Even the inevitable encounter between he and Olyphant that bookends the film is a well-played scene. And I always love seeing some of my favorite TV people break into the film world. Despite some horrible accents, both “Prison Break’s” Robert Knepper and “Lost’s” Henry Ian Cusick bring some entertainment in small roles.

So, as far as action goes, Hitman ranks up there. Between the choreography and script that allows Agent 47 to be one step ahead at all times, (the booby traps set in his hotel room and guns hidden in the ice box are fantastic), one can’t help but root for this ruthless assassin. In the end, though, it is still a videogame movie and checks a lot of intelligence at the door, but if I have problems with the fact that we need a subtitle caption for every single location we go to, (they are all in St. Petersburg, I think we can tell the difference between a train station and a police station, thanks much), yet have none with the nonstop action, one will see that the good does outweigh the bad.

Hitman 6/10

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photography:
[1] Olga Kurylenko and Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47 in The 20th Century Fox’s Hitman (2007) Copyright © The 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47 in The 20th Century Fox’s Hitman (2007) Copyright © The 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

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