Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Fans of the video game franchise Hitman are probably the primary target for the movie Hitman (2007). However, it does offer some entertainment value even for people like me who have never played the game.

Hitman starts out with standard fare...a variety of children are shown being given strict, rigid training that turns them into cold, calculating, and efficient killers. He echoes scenes from the short-lived Dark Angel series, particularly with the scene where barcodes are tattood onto the heads of each kid.

Then it flashes to Agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) as he arrives home. The music in this scene is interesting as it strongly echoes the Bourne franchise music in moments when Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is about to do something based on his training as a specialized, renamed killer for hire by a secret governmental agency...of course, that might be expected since in Hitman the title character is trained to be a specialized, renamed killer for higher by a secret religious agency so referencing a highly successful franchise is not a mad move here.

Inside he faces Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant), the grown-up version of, one presumes, the child we saw get his dome inked up earlier. Agent 47 asks Mike the key and when does a good man decide to kill? Then the movie flashes back 3 months to show one of his hits.

Mike also appears in that scene, which takes place in Africa. Mike works for Interpol and is tracking "our guy" who, naturally, will turn out to be Agent 47. He is convinced the Africa hit is the work of his ghost, his unseen assassin who Mike is sure has made over 100 hits.

Meanwhile, Agent 47 gets another assignment...kill Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), the newly turned moderate President of Russia. However, against his normal protocol, he is ordered to make the hit in public. Agent 47 likes the low profile work as it allows him to stay hidden.

Before he can leave Russia he is told there was a witness and is told to hit Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko). However, when he approaches her, she does not recognize him and he realizes he has been set up. Just in time a random passerby comes between him and the guy sent to kill him, taking the bullet meant for Agent 47. He escapes into the crowd.

Then he is told he missed his first hit, that Belicoff is still alive. This sets in motion a chain of events as he is chased by The Organization (the group that trained him) who are trying to kill him, Mike and Jenkins (Michael Offei) of Interpol for being a killer, and Yuri Marklov (Robert Knepper) of the FSB, the Russian intelligence arm, to kill Nika for knowing why Belicoff hired his own assassination, and Agent 47 for now knowing the truth.

Inter-faction arguments between INTERPOL, the FSB, and in a tertiary role the CIA lead to chases, fights, killings, and basically turn it into a road fight picture.

In the end Agent 47 unravels the mystery, gets the girl...maybe...and convinces Mike to play off another assassin Agent 47 has killed as being the target of his hunt so Agent 47 can disappear in safety.

The acting is interesting. Agent 47 is a deliberately cold, unemotional, unfeeling character. However, for those who have not followed the video game franchise, this makes him hard to get involved with. Nika's roll seems to be to show lots of skin and try to seduce Agent 47 at 10 - 15 minute intervals, albeit unsuccessfully. Mike and Yuri have excellent rapport and byplay that really steals the movie.

But this is not a movie about acting, it is about shooting and sword-fighting, and spectacular, convoluted plans to kill bad guys. And for that, it does just fine.

It was a bit disconcerting in one scene between Agent 47 and Nika where her ridiculous dragon tattoo jumps from left cheek to right cheek and back. The scene was clearly shot at two different times as her make-up and skin texture change as well. There are other continuity issues, but this was the most jarring.

Overall, it was pretty good for what it was...popcorn fare based on a popular game. The storyline was better than expected, though it had huge, gaping holes that seem to have been left alone since there is no reasonable explanation...they simply provided a thin excuse for great heaps of violence. For example...why does the Organization elect to pursue Agent 47? In the confrontation between 4 Organization assassins and Agent 47, why do they point their guns at each other, then only fight Agent 47? Once the Russians have been killed, why is an assassin still sent after Nika? It is pointless.

Be that as it may, leave the questions at home, just sit back and enjoy the violence.

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