Destructoid review: Hitman the movie

Videogame movies are so much fun. Whether it’s Resident Evil: Extinction, Silent Hill, or Ballistics: Ecks vs. Sever, the film is almost invariably going to disappoint us, and end up leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. Usually, though, the film is attempting to either incorporate a detailed plot, or tries to translate the fun of being in an interactive environment into a non-interactive medium.

Well, simply put, Hitman has always been about killing people. If it wasn’t, then I’d say the title was a huge tease and promptly condemn it to the bargain bin. And if I know Hollywood, they love to film people being shot in all sorts of manners. So, what could possibly go wrong — Hitman and Hollywood could potentially be a match made in Heaven!

Hitman (film)
Directed by Xavier Gens
Written by Skip Woods
Released November 21, 2007

Hitman was an enjoyable movie, I’ll give it that. For those of you who have never heard of the series, Agent 47 (played by Timothy Olyphant) is an assassin trained from childhood to work for “The Agency,” performing any number of hits all across the world. Of course, Interpol isn’t too happy about this, and is constantly pursuing the man, even though they have no clues.

The bulk of the movie takes place in Moscow, where Agent 47 is assigned to assassinate the Russian president. All the while, Interpol agent Mike Whittier (played by Dougray Scott) and the Russian FSB, lead by Yuri Marklov (played by Robert Knepper). That’s the barebones version of the plot, as otherwise you start to get into spoiler area.

One of the rules of screenwriting, as my teacher told me, is to use flashbacks, dream sequences, and voice overs sparingly. Hitman is 95% flashback, though. It gets to the point where I completely forgot what the opening minutes of the show was about, or its significance, about half way through the film. This leads to my qualification of the film as “enjoyable” but not necessarily “good.” The story is set up fine, for the most part. There aren’t huge gaps in logic that need to be jumped, and there are actually a few plot twists and turns, however predictable they may be.

Apart from Agent 47, Mike Whittier, and Yuri Marklov, the rest of the characters in the movie are relatively flat and secondary. Other agents do appear in the movie, but they’re just punching bags meant for show. Even Nika Boronina, the main female lead, is just there to be the object of a few snide remarks and to be a pair of tits on-screen. She serves no other purpose, honestly.

Which brings me to my biggest problem with the film: Agent 47 shouldn’t be showing emotion. Yet for some reason — most likely the need to show tits on-screen — Agent 47 doesn’t kill her right away, and in fact takes her with him wherever he goes. This also leads us to the problem of Timothy Olyphant trying to display emotions, a skill he doesn’t seem to have a great hold on in the film. His “angry” face is nothing more than laughable with a shaved head.

Otherwise, the film goes as I’d expect the games do (I haven’t gotten to play them myself). Agent 47 has to kill a target, and so he sneaks and blasts his way through to whoever he needs to find. There were a few things that I balked at when it came to 47’s preparations — like hiding pistols in ice chests at the hotel. Otherwise, though, I left the film with a small sense of longing. I had hoped to see more interesting uses of Agent 47’s training, as opposed to having him do some fancy fighting moves. The beginning provides a great example of the innovation in assassination that I’m talking about, but then the rest of the film fails to follow up.

The plot could have been developed further, and the case that the film focuses on could’ve been shortened. I would’ve loved to see more of a backstory behind Agent 47’s training and upbringing. It’s hinted and alluded to in some flashbacks, but it’s never fully explained. That was probably the greatest tease of the whole film, and it saddens me that it was never fully developed. Hopefully they will in the future, though.

The film is mostly just packed with explosions, fighting, and some tits thrown in there to make the 14-year-old boys who snuck in happy. While this sounds craptacular, the film is done competently. The camerawork is good, and the action doesn’t get to be gratuitious. While the plot isn’t very strong, there are no serious screw ups, and it stays faithful to the basic concept of what the game is about. If more videogame films would follow Hitman and cut down on the cheesiness, then the films would turn out much better. You can still have references to the games and other nerd culture items, just be smart about it. For example, I loved the nod to Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade, with the FSB’s uniforms.

If you’re planning on seeing this, be sure to like explosions, guns, and fights. Also, tits. To be honest, though, they’re not that exciting, so don’t go just for the tits. Hitman is a step in the right direction for videogame films, but there’s still a long way to go.

Rating: 6.0