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Hitman - Review

Hitman

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

MOVIES based on computer games are a notoriously hard act to pull off, largely because the all-action console format simply doesn’t translate to the big screen.

Xavier Gens’ Hitman fares better than most but it still falls some way short of being a decent movie. Rather, it’s a collection of slick, ultra-violent set pieces strung together by a nonsensical plot and populated by wafer-thin characters.

What’s more, it stretches credibility from the start by virtue of the fact that its main protagonist – Timothy Olyphant’s nameless Agent 47 – is so easy to identify for a person that’s supposed to exist in secret.

Completely bald and boasting a barcode on the back of his head, not to mention a company issue black suit, white shirt and red tie, Agent 47 simply sticks out like a sore thumb throughout, making him easy to find for the many enemies on his trail.

Had the movie poked a little fun at itself (like some of the best James Bond moments) it might have got away with it, but by playing it straight-faced and aiming for the full throttle thrills of the Bourne franchise, it shoots hopelessly wide of the target.

The plot, too, is either under-explained (in the case of Agent 47’s history) or needlessly complex (but with no good reason). Quite why “the organisation” that created such an efficient killing machine would want to sacrifice one of its greatest achievements is never properly explained – merely serving to place Olyphant’s loner in Russia during a political takeover that subsequently puts both the Russian military and Interpol on his trail.

Likewise, the sudden change of conscience that makes him want to protect the beautiful girl (Olga Kurylenko) that could have set him up, also feels like a mere plot device, especially since the director then refuses to allow any real chemistry to develop between them.

Indeed, one of Hitman‘s biggest flaws lies in its direction, which is more about style than substance. Olyphant tries his best but is given less to work with than most Rambo scripts, while Dougray Scott’s pursuing Interpol agent is also short-changed in terms of character development.

New Bond girl Kurylenko, meanwhile, appears to deliver a dressless rehearsal for her 007 role but mostly feels exploited by the director, who seems to take a perverse delight in having her appear naked at every opportunity (including one objectionable moment where she’s tied up and beaten).

The set pieces are mostly well choreographed and suitably violent, but they pale by comparison to the best that the genre has to offer (both Bond and Bourne deliver better, more believable thrills), while the decision to leave things open for a sequel also robs the film of any real sense of closure. It ends as abruptly as it begins.

Hitman therefore winds up as yet another disappointing entry into the computer game-to-movie genre that under performs in just about every department.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK DVD Release: March 31, 2008