Ken's Review: Hitman - Failed To Hit The Target
by Ken Evans
November 24, 2007
When I think of video game film adaptations nothing great comes to mind. This is extremely unfortunate as there are many video games that could make great movies. How is it possible that these screenwriters and directors can start with such a great foundation and twist it into something that has no resemblance to what it started out being? Just look at the many video game adaptations from the past: Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill. One of my favorite games of all time was the original Resident Evil for Playstation. Unfortunately, I went to see it and was disgusted with how Paul W.S. Anderson was able to completely destroy everything I had hoped for. With the exception of Mortal Kombat, which is not a great film but I still enjoy, every video game adaptation has been un-enjoyable until I watched Hitman.
Hitman is about Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) who was bred to be a professional killer. Raised by "The Organization" from a young age, Agent 47 has been trained in every form of combat. He now is contracted out through "The Organization" to kill whoever the client desires. After returning from his latest high profile assignment, Agent 47 finds out that the person he thought he killed is miraculously still alive. Since he didn't complete his assignment, "The Organization" sends other hitmen to kill him. While running around trying to uncover a conspiracy and keep himself alive, Agent 47 manages to pick up a girl who he drags with him the rest of the film.
While Hitman might be the most enjoyable video game adaptation I have ever seen, that doesn't make it a great movie by any means. I played the first game in the series, Hitman: Codename 47 for the PC and to be honest there isn't much similarity between the movie and that game. Sure he goes around and kills people, but that is basically the definition of a hitman. They left out all the cool details that made Agent 47 so different and interesting. The only real similarity is that Olyphant dresses just like Agent 47 from the game, and has the barcode tattooed on the back of his head (which we see in about 50 close-up shots). If it wasn't for the tattoo and the suit, they could have titled the movie Assassin and no one would have ever thought of the hitman game.
So if Hitman bears no semblance to the game, why do I think it is the most enjoyable video game adaptation? Simple, because it was like watching a different version of The Bourne Identity, and I really enjoyed The Bourne Identity. Both films have professional assassins who are trying to track down the people who are trying to kill them while finding and protecting a love interest. Both have fight scenes scattered between important moments of drama and story advancement. Come to think of it, this describes just about any professional killer film such as The Saint or The Transporter. Even The Professional had the young girl becoming infatuated with Leon.
The performances in Hitman were only okay, with the exception of Olyphant. He reminds me a lot of Matt Damon in the first Bourne film. In comparison to the later movies in the series, Damon seemed very choreographed and still trying to figure out how to be an action hero. After watching The Bourne Ultimatum, I can say that Damon has reached action hero status. Olyphant is just starting down that road. The action scenes were cool but still a bit slow and rehearsed due to Olyphant's lack of experience acting in such physical scenes. I look forward to seeing him in the same type of film in a few years.
Hitman is for those action junkies who don't care about story and just want to see a bunch of cool fight scenes. This film should definitely hold you over until Shoot ‘Em Up comes out on DVD, or at least until Rambo IV or Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is released in theaters.