Hitman My Reviews 05 JAN 2008

HitmanThe Agency. A shadowy organization that seemingly takes in orphaned or abandoned children, modifies them both physically and mentally, trains them in the arts of killing and then releases them into the world as the world’s most deadly assassins for hire.

Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is one such agent, professional as they come and a man driven to never fail in any of his missions. Wanted by Interpol and just about every law enforcement agency across the planet, Agent 47 is one of the most prolific merchants of death to ever grace this planet. His latest hit is the high profile assassination of Russian president, Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen). The job is a success and Belicoff lies dead, caught on all the world’s major television networks.

However, word is gotten that there was a witness to his actions, and 47 sets about eliminating this threat. However, on seeing the unknown woman described as the witness, 47 immediately realizes that he has been set up and soon becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of cat and mouse as he gets targeted by both other agents of the Agency as well as Interpol and the Russian secret service. Worse still, things become even more complicated when it appears that Belicoff may in fact not be dead after all.

Despite the danger all around him and the added liability of his newly taken hostage, 47 is not a man to back down from any mission, and he will not stop until his assignment is complete – and Belicoff’s cold, lifeless corpse lies at his feet’

Hitman is based on Eidos’ long running series of games which features Agent 47 as an unstoppable killing machine. Produced by Vin Diesel, Diesel was meant to star in the movie before pulling out right before shooting was scheduled to start, leaving a space for Timothy Olyphant to pick up the slack. Directed by the fairly unknown Xavier Gens, Hitman is primarily a European production and is shot almost entirely in Bulgaria, with a few sequences also being filmed in London, Istanbul, St. Petersburg – and South Africa of all places.

Hitman’s story has all the elements that make for a good action movie. Trained professional killers, political intrigue, determined cops and a couple of neat twists that will keep you guessing. There are unfortunately a lot of plot holes throughout the movie and as such, you really shouldn’t focus too deeply on the story being told. Often, the story is just a crutch used to drive the action sequences forward, something perhaps most obvious in the assassins’ fight in the train. Nevertheless, the story manages to be thoroughly entertaining, action-packed and humorous enough to hold your attention for the duration of the movie and let you eventually leave the cinema with that feeling of absolutely getting your money’s worth.

Hitman doesn’t star too many A-list actors, but there are more than a few recognizable faces there. First of all Timothy Olyphant (you might recognize him from Deadwood and Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard) plays the quintessential Agent 47, capturing the efficiency, seriousness and professionalism of the character perfectly. The man doesn’t waste energy with any inefficient words or movements and Timothy portrays this to the letter T. On the flip side, he also manages to capture 47’s complete and utter lack of social behavior awareness, particularly when it comes to the opposite sex. Agent 47 is like a child who only knows how to kill, and Olyphant captures this behavior spectacularly.

Welshman Dougray Scott plays the competent, yet obsessed Interpol agent with flair and believability while Robert Knepper (T-Bag from Prison Break) portrays the thoroughly entertaining and sinister Yuri Marklov, the Russian FSB officer determined to put a stop to 47’s actions. The fairly unknown European actress Olga Kurylenko gets the nod as 47’s unfortunate hostage and gets to spend a lot of the movie locked up in 47’s trunk – which is a good thing because she is probably the weakest of the cast and really was only cast for her looks in all likelihood – and cheap rates perhaps.

Like I mentioned before, Hitman is primarly about action sequences, and Gens has done an absolutely fabulous job in bring some great gun and fist fights to the big screen. The hand to hand combat scenes are well choreographed and the camera work is tight, but it must be said that Timothy doesn’t make for a great fighter, and his lack of skill is evident in the fight scenes. The gun battles however are a lot easier for him and Gen’s focus on keeping things as realistic as possible is nice for a change as we have short, sharp gunshots with minimal but brutal blood sprays. –

Shot in Bulgaria, we have some nice backdrops for our characters to work in, but it is a little jarring that while supposedly in Russia most of the signage is in Bulgarian! Of course, most English viewers probably won’t pick up on this, so it isn’t actually a major gripe mind you.

Emmy-winning composer Geoff Zanelli composed the soundtrack for the movie and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Geoff manages to help control the moods of the various scenes perfectly and Hitman’s soundtrack is certainly a fun listen.

Hitman is not going to win any awards for writing, nor are any Oscars going to be coming its away, but so long as you don’t look at it too closely and ignore a few minor sticking points, the film is a marvelously fun action romp that serves up a good chunk of action, violence and more than a couple of laughs. Thoroughly enjoyable to both gamers and non-gamers alike, Hitman is one of those perfect Friday Action Night rentals.

A quick side note though: Please do not treat women as Agent 47 does. The consequences of doing so in the real world is dire indeed – you have been warned! ;)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.