Time and time again we see movies adapted from video games fail miserably. Hitman is probably the closest thing so far, with the exception of the first Tomb Raider flick, to a good film in the genre. It is amiable in the sense that’s it’s not boring but it misses the mark on every other level. The movie is so dumb at times that you wonder if the makers actually ever played the videogame, or at least throughly researched what is was about. Director Xavier Gens and writer Skip Woods have apparently learned nothing about how a real assassin works. A real assassin plans things out carefully, taking into consideration every possible factor. Perhaps if Gens and Woods would have applied this technique to their film, we might of had something special.
Timothy Olyphant plays Agent 47, the leading assassin for an organization known as ‘The Organization’ (in the game, it’s “The Agency”). He is hired to kill a Russian politician named Mikhail Belicoff , who is running for president. 47 assassinates Belicoff, only to find out later he is alive and well and delivering speeches. 47 realizes that he is being setup and that someone wants him dead and their might be a conspiracy against him within ‘The Organization.’ Now he has an obsessive Interpol agent (Dougray Scott), the Russian government, and other assassins from ‘The Organization’ hunting him down. With the help of a local prostitute, Nika (Olga Kurylenko), whom he crosses paths with along the way, 47 fights against all odds to find out who set him up and why.
To say the least, the screenplay by Woods is very incoherent. The movie is not easy to follow and at times it is overly convoluted. Woods also doesn’t appear to care or know that much about his main character. Not only that he makes this supposedly brilliant assassin look stupid. In one scene, he pulls out the laptop that he uses to communicate with ‘The Organization’ in front of a giant crowd in the airport and talks to his contact, Diana, about assignment details. You would think that 47 would find a private place to do this. This mistake occurs again as 47 pulls his car over to a restaurant to let Nika out of the trunk that he stuffed her in.
Director Gens tries to create a feeling and tone similar to that of the Bourne films but the biggest difference between those films and this one is that Gens lets bombasticness take over instead of building a suspenseful storyline. It doesn’t help either that the film is poorly edited by Carlo Rizzo and Antoine Vareille. As if the script wasn’t messy enough already, it has rough and quick cuts from one scene to another to go along with it. The film tries to look good with the cinematography by Laurent Bares, but the editing doesn’t help that either.
You have to feel sorry for the miscast Timothy Olyphant. Agent 47 is probably 10-15 years older than Olyphant looks in this film. Olyphant is a good talent that shouldn’t be wasted like he has been this year. He is much better as a comedian actor in movies like Catch and Release and the The Girl Next Door and should stay out of action capers like this and Live Free or Die Hard. As Interpol agent Mike Whittier, Dougary Scott (2005’s Dark Water) is probably the standout of the no-name supporting cast. He does a nice job of playing an obsessive, stop-at-nothing cop. Olga Kurylenko as Nika is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons and the rest of the cast is fair at best.
After following the production of Hitman from start to finish, I had a feeling that this would be a major letdown. There were problems from day one. It was going to originally star Vin Diesel as 47, but he pulled out. There was a rumor that the original director pulled out as well. The picture was put together relatively quick, in about 7 months, which explains a lot when it comes to careless errors. It would certainly provide the best explanation as to why the editing is so bad. If there are any filmmakers out there who want to forget this misfire was ever made and give the source material the treatment it deserves with another film, there will be no objections here. If however, a sequel is made by the same team, I may just have to get some contact info on a real hitman.
|Release Date: November 21, 2007
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper
Director: Xavier Gens
Screenplay: Skip Woods
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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