Elegant and calculated, Hitman delivers an altogether satisfying spy flick. Based on the hit game by Eidos, this movie brings in all of the most beloved aspects of the action/espionage movie genre.
The hitman (Agent 47, played by Timothy Olyphant) develops as a James Bond-type, but is less cocky and has a colder attitude. This makes for the perfect antihero that the new generation of movie patrons appreciates.
Agent 47 is trained from early childhood by a secret organization known as The Agency. Without individuality, the only distinguishing mark on 47 is the barcode tattooed on the back of his head. He is trained, alongside other children, to be a killer.
Completely cut off from family, 47 has no significant emotional interaction with anyone. These factors produce a cold-blooded killer-for-hire – methodical, thorough and efficient.
The story picks back up after 47 racks up roughly 150 confirmed kills. He is hired to assassinate Russian President Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich
Thomsen). With a sniper rifle, he accomplishes his task and gets away clean- or so he believes. Interpol agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) has been following 47’s string of “hits” for three years.
After the assassination of the president, 47 narrowly escapes an assault at his hotel by the Russian police force. He soon learns that despite his efforts, Belicoff is alive and planning to make trouble for 47 for the attempt on his life. Belicoff announced to the public that the bullet only grazed his forehead. Whittier does not believe this, and he follows leads to uncover a plot that stems from the highest political circles. Agent 47 does the same, but in a more violent fashion.
Along the way, he meets a beautiful woman who happens to be one of Belicoff’s brother’s prostitutes. Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko) puts more darkly comical situations into the film for the supposedly cold, unfeeling assassin.
For example, upon meeting Boronina, 47 kidnaps her after inadvertently foiling her attempted murder – ordered by her pimp. Not wanting to take any chances with her, he makes her ride in the trunk of his car with the corpse of her would-be assassin – despite her wild protests. Shortly after this, 47 starts on a mission to uncover the truth behind his set-up and to kill Belicoff once and for all.
His journey through Eastern Europe gives the movie a large-scale feel and makes it a more intriguing international spy adventure. The fast-paced, action-packed-thriller aspect of
Hitman kicks into high gear when he not only evades Interpol, but also repels the assassins of The Agency sent after him by Belicoff.
Hitman certainly lives up to its R rating with a string of pulse-pounding, bloody action sequences – not to mention a few nude scenes featuring Boronina. A particularly interesting situation occurs when 47 meets with three other agents out for his life in an unused subway car. Instead of a gunfight, which would most likely end all of their lives, 47 suggests they all “die with a little dignity.” They each take out two short katanas and begin a four-way melee battle.
The stigma that plagues video game-based films is very hard to overcome. Great
special effects and action combined with campy plots, bad screenplay and poor acting are the norm of most movies based on video games.
Hitman, however, delivers a great visual aspect and also has good dialogue and a decent plot. Though Olyphant and Scott are probably the only two actors most people will recognize, the other characters –
mostly Europeans – are portrayed skillfully and authentically.
For the typical action-movie patron, Hitman is good in most of the right places, although the soundtrack was a little repetitive.
Snappy one-liners from a surprisingly loveable assassin and good character development add dimension to the film, which most video-game movies lack. Also, the incorporation of some aspects of the video game into 47’s actions in the movie appealed to the fans. For instance, 47 impersonated a flower deliverer in order to get Boronina to open her door for him, something you can get 47 to do in the games.
Overall, Hitman successfully bridges the gap between film and video game. This surprising hit is not only a feast for the game’s faithful, but also an enjoyable action flick for those looking for, well, a good action flick. Hitman has proven itself to be the killer app for the box office this holiday season.
Running Time: 100 min.