Hitman (2007)

Hitman is one of those series that looks like it’s right up my alley, yet I’ve still never gotten around to playing at all. So I can’t really comment on fidelity to the source material. What I can tell you is that the movie is clearly trying to be nothing more than one over-the-top action sequence after another with only the thinnest of plot development to connect everything, and to that extent, it’s extremely competent.

Our bald protag Agent 47 is played by Timothy Oilyphaunt, the guy who played a major character in the pretty good show Deadwood, then rode that success to a bunch of mediocre performances in terrible movies. I suspect he’s wearing some kind of latex bald cap, but can offer no evidence, other than he just looks a little awkward (but then, some dudes just aren’t made to rock the bald head.)

The one thing this film does really well? Backstory. Over the opening credits, the creation of young Agent 47 is shown in an effective montage with no dialogue whatsoever, just set to the tune of Ave Maria. You get the full idea quickly and effectively – kid orphaned or kidnapped or something, shaved and put a barcode on his head, trained in kung fu and killing, locked up in some facility that prevents escape. Tight and effective. I hope Uwe Boll watched this part and took notes.

The rest of the movie isn’t quite at the same level, but the 16% Critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes seems far too low to me. Now, it isn’t a good movie. It’s fairly boring and has all sorts of awkward performances. But strictly as an old-school Hong Kong style violence romp that simply rushes between action sequences? It’s really not bad at all. 16% is down near Uva Bowels territory, and this really is way better. I’m not sure I’d even give it a score of 70%, but purely as an action movie, 16% is ridiculously low.

At the writing helm for this one is Skip Woods. Apparently, prior to this, he only had two major films under his belt – Swordfish, that movie known mostly for having a gratuitous shot of Halle Berry’s nipples, and Thursday, some movie from the late 90’s I’ve never heard of, but that apparently Roger Ebert hated because it was basically a snuff film. Again, I’m not familiar with the games, but I see an interview with the producer here that claims he didn’t base it on any game in particular, maybe airlifting a few elements out of different ones. Standard game-to-movie procedure. Really, there’s so little time spent on non-action sequences, the writing is almost irrelevant. Director Xavier Gens? A bunch of French art films that don’t even have Wikipedia entries, and some French movie called Fronterie, a confusing mishmash of Neo-Nazis and zombies. However, earlier in his career, as an actor he starred in some Italian movie called “The Good, The Bad, and The Zombies“, which I feel makes him by far the best director we’ve seen yet.

I think the thing that makes the movie turgid in spite of decent action is that 47 never once faces a real challenge, like ever. He’s basically in God Mode with an aimbot on the entire time. Early in the movie, he’s staying in a hotel and gets set up by someone or something, and some Russian special forces unit is about to bust into his room to apprehend him. He has to quickly run out of the room and rappel off the balcony in just his work shirt and pants with no gear on him. We then find out he hid his “ballers” in an ice machine on another floor for some reason, however, and just kind of casually fights his way out of the hotel with those alone, sliding around elevator shafts barefoot and etc. That’s really the closest you ever see this guy to anything approaching danger. Hordes of other barcode assassins come after him through the entirety of the movie, but he dispatches them with little more trouble than any of the other mooks and grunts, including when three of them ambush him simultaneously in a train car.

I’m 47 and what is this

The other thing is that he has no personality whatsoever other than “uncomfortable around women.” I assume both this and the “god mode” thing is to keep fidelity with the game. What works in an action-heavy game doesn’t work in a film, however. There’s no kind of moral consideration or redemptive arc, really the only challenge Hitman has to face is “will he ever get laid?” Which he doesn’t. When that Russian hooker he’s toting around for inane reasons (the original “girl with the dragon tattoo”) gets drunk and tries to give him a ride out of nowhere, just to get a sex scene of some sort into the movie, he pulls some sort of roofie injection out of nowhere. Which now that I think about it is even more creepy.

The action is at least a competent knockoff of John Woo type movies, which is something I guess, if you somehow get forced to watch it. It’s probably not worth paying money for though.

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