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Hitman (A Movie Review)

Updated: Oct 19, 2022


HITMAN (2007)

Starring Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Henry Ian Cusick and Michael Offei.

Screenplay by Skip Woods.

Directed by Xavier Gens.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  107 minutes.  Rated R.

Hint to Interpol: when you are tracking down a silent, ruthless contract killer, perhaps you should pay a little more attention to the man with his head shaved and a bar code tattooed on the back of his skull.

In the movie Hitman, dozens of lives could have been saved had constables all over the world just stopped and thought: “Hmmm, that’s a weird look.  What’s up with those guys?”

So, yes, I am advocating the profiling of skinheads with UPC codes on their noggins.  Sue me.

Hitman is a movie based on a computer game — which is always a bad sign.  Need I go over the rogues gallery of horrible computer game adaptations?  Doom, Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Underworld, Super Mario Brothers, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever… The list goes on and on and on.

The good news is: as movies based on computer games go, Hitman is one of the better ones.

The bad news is: as movies in general go, it’s just okay.

The first thing I noticed when perusing the opening credits was that there was only one woman in the cast with a role worthy of a credit.  In fact, after watching it I can only think of two women in the movie at all — with a third female on voiceover.  Which is always worrisome, but at least you know what you’re getting into — high testosterone violence with very little feeling and even less sex.  On the plus side, the Eurotrash hot actress Olga Kurylenko does her best to give the audiences their dose of gratuitous nudity.

Timothy Olyphant — an actor who I’ve always admired for his fiery, intelligent and emotional acting style — gets sort of muzzled here, playing the cool, collected and unfeeling title character. Known simply as Agent 47 (he’s way too disconnected for a real name), he was brought up in this Asian village where they breed cold blooded killers.  All of the boys who live in the village have that bar code tattooed to the back of their heads.  Then when they grow up, they are hired out to criminal enterprises as hitmen.

Agent 47 is hired to take out a top Russian politician, but it turns out he has been double-crossed, therefore the contract killer has to flee across the Eastern Bloc to London — killing everyone who gets in his way and taking the politician’s lover/slave Nika (Kurylenko) along as a hostage.  At first they hate each other, but as he gets to know Nika, Agent 47 comes to feel for her and the hard life she has experienced.

This puts the filmmakers in a slightly morally ambiguous gray area — can we overlook a lifetime of violent murder because the hitman learns to chastely love and decides to save the hot Russian damsel-in-distress?

It’s obvious that the makers of Hitman think we should, but I’m not sure I ever bought into their argument.  It is also obvious that they are inspired by the Bourne movies, but while they have some of the obvious moves down — the exotic locales, the sudden, oppressive, shocking violence — we never are able to warm up to Agent 47 like we do to Bourne, simply because the main character is never allowed any human frailties.

In the long-run, Hitman is an interesting but very flawed miss.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2008  All rights reserved.  Posted: March 10, 2008.

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