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'Hitman' movie misses the mark

March 10, 2008

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Hitman: the movieAgent 47 could have been the next Jason Bourne or 007, if the producers of the slap dash 'Hitman' feature film had only taken the time to suitably develop the character. They really have no excuse either. It is not like they were starting from scratch. Agent 47 and the 'Hitman' series by Eidos Interactive is one of the most established and exceptional video game franchises ever made. So, when it came to material to draw upon and a solid back-story to work with, the producers had it all at their fingertips but for some reason they turned a blind eye to it all.

Coming to DVD this Tuesday, 'Hitman' is not a total waste of time but it is really nothing special either. As fans of the video game series
can attest to, the mystifying Agent 47 is living, breathing urban legend. A faceless, nameless assassin, Agent 47 works for the equally mystifying Agency snuffing out all manner of scum...for a price.

In the film, a botched killing of the Russian president has 47 being tailed by not only the FSB but Interpol as well. As the web of political intrigue closes around Agent 47, he encounters other hitman contracted to kill him and a curious woman named Nika who just might hold the key to the entire mystery.

Hitman: the movie:  I look sweet.  I look really sweet...In an intriguing twist, the film suggests that Agent 47, a clone, has more emotional depth than he lets on. The whole "still waters run deep" scenario. For those who are familiar with the character through the video games, the revelation ruins much of what makes Agent 47 such a great anti-hero in the first place. The suggestion that he isn't fighting his true nature of being all "circuitry and wires" when it comes to his emotional state of being flies in the face of the Agent 47 mythos that have been revealed piece by piece in the video game series.

Where 'Hitman' stumbles hard is in the casting. Though he tries his darnest, Timothy Olyphant ('Deadwood', ''Live Free and Die Hard') doesn't have the cold, emotionless, remorseless traits that make Agent 47 so deadly as a hired killer. Olyphant generates empathy at times because of his look and mannerisms. Jason Statham ('The Transporter') would have been a far better choice as he has the ability to be more detached. Olyphant has the look but not the calculating conduct. It takes more than a suit, a red tie and a gun in each hand to play Agent 47.

Although we can overlook Olyphant's flaws, we cannot ignore the fact that the producers did not embrace the violent, poetic and artistic stylings of the game. Instead of John Woo we get Allen Smithee and despite brief flashes of inspiration, 'Hitman' is nothing more than your standard action film fare when it could have been so much more in the right hands. Gone is all the style. Gone is all the character and charm.

Hitman: the movie:  Hey!  I do look sweet!In the end, fans of the game will not know any more about the silent assassin than they did before and fleshing out the "human side" of the steely-eyed killer is not that endearing. What makes Agent 47 so cool is that he is a man of little emotion and few words. His actions speak for themselves. The 'Hitman' story and character deserved a more gritty and stylistic treatment. Lost is much of the intrigue, the moral anguish and contradictory nature of the Agent 47 character.

Hitman (2007)
DVD: 20th Century Fox (2007)
Director: Xavier Gens.
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko.

Rating: 5 / 10

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