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Directed by Xavier Gans.
Written by Skip Woods.  Based on the video game by EIDOS.
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Olga Kurylenko and Dougray Scott.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  11/21/07


Another day, another comic book, graphic novel or video game-inspired motion picture product.  This time, it's a product I recognize, because with "Hitman", I can at least claim to have played a couple of the video games and know that this is truly one of gaming's most iconic characters.

The "Hitman" referred to in the title is Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant, from "Deadwood"), a bald badass who has a bar code on the back of his head, a reminder that he was a born-and-raised assassin product of a clandestine organization called...The Organization.  When we meet him, an Interpol agent (Dougray Scott, who played the bad guy in "M:I-2") is on the trail of Agent 47, since 47 has left a trail of bodies all over the world that may or may not be work he conducted for The Organization and some of their clients, which may include the CIA.  Currently, 47 is in Russia--St. Petersburg, to be specific--where he is tasked with taking out a Russian presidential candidate...and, when the hit is completed, he learns that he took out a double of the candidate, and when he learns that there may be some double-crossing involved, he goes about trying to clear his name with his own organization as well.

The toughest thing about the video game "Hitman" is that the character--while a badass--never actually talks during the games, so everything about his voice, his personality, his backstory outside of the fact that he kills people is left out of the game's plotlines.  And, of course, being that he is all business, he has no time for, the first two things you have to sit with are the facts that 1) Olyphant is occasionally a chatterbox during this film, and 2) there is a female lead, played by Olga Kurylenko, who has to be babysat by 47 throughout the movie.  I don't know if either one of these ever really worked for me or not; they were just kind of "you gotta deal."  I loved the games because you have to stealthily move from mission to mission while killing only the main target in each level, taking up disguises along the way and making good use of things like wire, silenced weapons and poison foods.  Generally, if you had to, you could break out the hardware, but you have more fun in the game if you only have to use a gun to take out the main target.

"Hitman" goes another way altogether; stealth never really appears to be an option for 47, so he just outguns everybody.  That is occasionally cool in this movie; Olyphant clears looks the part, and he's given ample opportunities to blow up entire rooms full of bad guys, other assassins and Russian police officers.  I would have preferred more of the kinds of things that make the games cool, but I get that you have to sell tickets and you sell tickets by blowing shit up.  The other major area where the film fails--any time that 47 or the girl or both are not on the screen.  Scott is awful in this film, and the supporting cast only gets worse from there.  The dialogue amongst those who are trying to catch 47 is just plain hack, and it's made worse if you've seen any cop flick from the 1970s, 80s or 90s; I mean, after a while, I was just laughing at how bad some of it was.  I can say that the film looks good, and I liked the Bulgarian production design that stands in for St. Petersburg.

Action films are not prevalent this time of year, so if your game is action, there aren't any other films out right now that give you gunfire like "Hitman" will.  But, for fans of the game, expect some disappointment.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09