by Eric D. Snider
Released: November 21, 2007
I was worried the streak might be broken. "Hitman" stars Timothy Olyphant, who's a good actor, and it's about a squad of assassins who are raised up from childhood to be perfect killers -- kind of a cool idea. Would this be the first time in history that a movie based on a video game turned out to be good?
Never fear! The streak continues. "Hitman" ought to be all about the fighting and killing, yet the fight scenes aren't terribly good. They're not even abundant, which is the sort of thing you can usually count on in a movie like this. I haven't played "Hitman," but I'm guessing the movie has chosen, for some reason, to re-create the story scenes that play between levels. The ones that players skip.
Olyphant plays Agent 47, an orphan who was trained in the art of killing with other orphans and castoffs by a secret organization. This organization shaves their heads clean and tattoos barcodes on the backs of their skulls -- you know, to help them totally blend into a crowd and not stand out in any way.
The story is convoluted and chaotic, but it mostly involves Agent 47 pursuing Russian president Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), whom he was supposed to kill but who wound up alive instead. It could be that Agent 47's own people are turning against him. He doesn't really know who his "people" are. He only communicates with them via instant messenger on his laptop. His handler's remarks are read aloud by the computer software, I guess so the audience doesn't get bored reading them. He even communicates this way in a crowded train station, where anybody walking past could overhear. Again, stealth, not really this secret organization's strong suit.
Agent 47 winds up protecting/kidnapping Nika (Olga Kurylenko), a semi-Russian babe who's been sleeping with Belicoff. The agent was supposed to kill her but changed his mind. He makes her ride in the trunk of his car most of the time. He's also being pursued by Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott), an Interpol agent.
"Hitman" serves as a reminder that Russian accents are nearly always funny. This is especially true when one of them is coming from Robert Knepper (as a coldblooded Russian mobster), who plays the sinister T-Bag on TV's "Prison Break."
The director is a French fellow named Xavier Gens. His first feature, a horror flick called "Frontiere(s)," is set to be released by Lionsgate at some point in 2008. I've heard good things about it, as far as French horror flicks go. No doubt it's better than "Hitman," which was written by Skip Woods, who wrote the John Travolta/Halle Berry disaster "Swordfish," which I probably could have mentioned at the beginning of this review to save you the trouble of reading any further.
Rated R, a lot of harsh profanity, plenty of violence and shooting, some brief partial nudity
1 hr., 40 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
This work may not be transmitted via the Internet, nor reproduced in any other way, without written consent from Eric D. Snider.