Published on November 26th, 2007 | by Erich Becker0
With so much marketing and promise going into it, Hitman fails to break the game to movie curse by relinquishing most of what made the gaming series unique and intriguing instead turning it into another run of the mill, guns akimbo, shooting fest that has the flavor of the Transporter with only a fraction of the fun.
Hitman‘s main protagonist, Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant), has been one of the most interesting leading men in video games with is dark black suit, signature red tie, and dual Silverballer weapons, the bald assassin had style and was interesting in all aspects. The game series’ storyline was also one of the more intriguing elements of the whole package with a genetically engineered assassin working for a secretive agency which adds layers to the fold as the series continues. The movie is a 2D extrapolation of this with only 47 and his handler Diana surviving. The script for the film shuns any real influence from the game series, instead placing Agent 47 into a Russian political controversy complete with a witness who knows too much and a compassionate hero who kills, but still has a heart.
There’s just so much cliché elements to the story that it becomes weighted down by its own lunacy as the picture wears on. The story is loose as best, and seems to only want to string together gun fight after gun fight. Yet, where movies like Shoot ‘em Up did this correctly, leaving story by the wayside and going strictly for testosterone fueled mayhem, Hitman just can’t leave behind its fractured narrative, which is a real shame because the game series has a unique and sometimes involving crux to stand on in the storytelling department. This should come as no surprise, however, from the man who wrote the similarly shallow Swordfish.
Olyphant, a personal favorite for his work on HBO’s Deadwood, seems uncomfortable in the role originally intended for Vin Diesel. His action comes off as wooden, although this could be attributed to the character. He spends the entire movie hauling around Nika (Olga Kurylenko) a prostitute who has been marked for death who was only saved by 47’s realization that he was set up to kill her. This all boils back into the political espionage plotline that is never really developed and turns into more of a joke than anything else as the story goes on.
Throughout the film 47 is pursued by Interpol and the Russian secret service, one hoping to capture him, the latter hoping to kill him to cover up their dark secret. All that really matters here for fans of the game is that the original storyline does nothing to really introduce us to the title character, nor inherit anything worthwhile from the game series even though the marketing of the film would lead you down that path. No where in the running time does it explain how 47 is “protected by divinity” and even through a series of flashbacks and a few fleeting lines of dialog do you even know how he came to be. A simple origin story, and the early missions would have been a great movie if done right, instead, this is what we get.
Hitman is yet another failed attempt to successfully create a mass-market video game movie while keeping the fans happy and the consumers buying tickets. Maybe one day a movie based on a game will be made where the source material is used more liberally, and the constructive story that’s been created over an entire console generation is not ignored. As it stands the film is a splattered mess of idiotic proportions and failed opportunities, yet another notch on the bedpost of mediocrity.