I recently got into an argument with a good friend of mine concerning this forgotten video game adaptation from 2007.
The disagreement arose when I noticed that the movie had popped up on the Star section of Disney+ and I remarked that I would most likely be reviewing it for this very website as I had never seen in before. Au contraire, says my friend and stated with full confidence that not only had I seen Hitman during it’s original release at the cinema, but I’d actually gone to see it with them. And so the argument raged, neither of us able to convince the other that they were, in fact, talking utter bollocks – and so I’ve settled down to settle things once and for all and put the bastard film on to see what’s what.
So who was right? Well you see, that’s the thing. After watching Hitman, I’m still no wiser about whether or not I’ve actually already seen it – which isn’t really the best sign, is it…?
Agent 47 is not only a proud graduate of the Patrick Stewart academy for hair care, but he’s also a member of an elite cadre of killers for hire that are trained at a very young age to be the best in the world. This group of “Bald Widows” are scattered across the globe, taking up assassination jobs that usually involve wiping out their targets in unfeasibly complicated ways in order to remain more mysterious.
After successfully shooting his most recent target in the face (Russian President Mikhail Belicoff, no less), Agent 47 is understandably puzzled when his handler messages him saying that he botched the hit and he spots his supposed victim is alive and well on the news a little while later. If this wasn’t curious enough, Agent 47 finds out that apparently there is a witness who can identify him and orders are to snuff her too – however, upon confronting her, it’s obvious that Nika, Belicoff’s mistress, has never seen him before in her life and an attempted hit on him convinces that he’s now the fall guy for a fucked up conspiracy.
Trying to keep the weirdly flirty Nika safe (it must be hard to keep track of the forces amassing against you when the woman you’re with keeps going on about not wearing any underwear), our sleek-headed anti-hero has to dodge Interpol agent Mike Whittier, corrupt FSB honcho Yuri Marklov and agents from his own secret assassination society in order to get to the bottom of a shockingly boring conspiracy that desperately wants you to think it has the integrity and intensity of a Jason Bourne film, but instead feels more like yet another video adapt that feels like a bland walkthrough that’s stuck on it’s easy setting…
You might be wondering while I wasted valuable space beginning this review with a rambling personal story and the answer is simple – I needed it to fill the space because Hitman is legitimately one of the most forgettable movies I have ever seen and therefore bloody tough to write about. The video game genre has had it’s ups and downs over the years but if you were to name virtually any of the adaotions that litter the cinematic landscape, odds are, regardless of the overall quality, you’ll find something memorable contained within. Street Fighter had Raul Julia’s insane final performance, Sonic The Hedgehog had Jim Carrey’s manic dancing and even DOA: Dead Of Alive had more random cleavage in it than a subscription to Pornhub – but, much like it’s hollow main character, Hitman hasn’t got one single aspect that stands out. Making possibly the most nondescript action thriller ever made can’t have been easy but director Xavier Gens makes it look second nature – which is a damn shame considering he’s responsible for brutal French new wave horror Frontier(s), cripplingly depressing dystopian thriller The Divide and even contributed three episodes to Gareth Evans magnificent crime series Gangs Of London.
Lead Timothy Olyphant doesn’t fare much better as most video game adaptations struggled to translate the playable avatars into non-polygoned, actual characters and he promptly became the latest baffling example of Hollywood casting charismatic actors in lead action roles that demanded that they show no emotion whatsoever. If Olyphant suffers, then everyone else flounders – Olga Kurylenko, essentially playing the same trashy Russian role she was saddled with in Max Payne, is left to offer the flick nothing more than unnecessary nudity and the script forces you to watch competent actors try to wrap their mouths around clunky dialogue that sounds like the script was written in another language and then badly translated for english speaking cast. As a result, usually dependable, veteran actors like Dougray Scott gives performances like they got their acting credentials from a single lesson from one of those skeevy coaches in L.A..
The plot is filled with more holes than one of Agent 47’s numerous bullet-chewed victims (I’ve never understood how being shaved bald with a barcode tattooed in the back of your head makes you blend in to a crowd) and the over complicated (yet still spectacularly dumb) political intrigue is quite possibly one of the least intriguing things I’ve ever had to witness.
If you need any more proof as to how terrible this film is, I’ll leave you with yet another story: when being asked if he’d return for a sequel (which eventually fucking happened), Olyphant flatly stated no. The reason? The only reason he did this turkey in the first place is that he needed the money to pay for his new house after Deadwood was suddenly cancelled. While this pretty much answers everything you need to know, the only question I have now is that 10 ten years from now, will I stillremember that I’ve seen it?
Hitman? Shit, man.