Taken as read that linear movies of interactive video game shoot-em-ups are always going to miss their mark, then Hitman takes a decent shot at big-action espionage guff, with some decent actors spouting nonsense between stylish set-pieces.
Post-Bourne franchise, charismatic Timothy Olyphant (Die Hard 4.0, Justified) is the least covert assassin since Bond, with Bond-girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum, Oblivion) lighting up the screen and Dougray Scott (Enigma, Mission Impossible) the tough but honest Interpol Agent.
The plot is cobbled together using post-it notes from the Segal/Statham/Jet Li/Luc Besson writers’ brainstorming session; we’ve seen it all before with Bourne, Bond and assorted Missions Improbable, and it apes their style with utter predictability.
Try this: Stone-cold Agent 47 turns rogue against his assassin’s guild to investigate why a corrupt Russian politician should hire a hit on himself. Kidnapping the ‘dead’ man’s mistress (Kurylenko), he sets out to uncover the conspiracy before Scott’s Interpol officer and FSB villain Marklov (Robert Knepper – Transporter III, Stargate Universe) catch up with him.
Needless to say it involves a lot of running, jumping, punching, shooting, kicking, stabbing and blowing stuff up. What did I tell you?
Of course, this being Hitman, we have to have the iconic pose of bald-headed man with big guns crossed over his chest and bald-headed man with barcode tattooed on the back of his head. Apparently there’s so many of these bald, genetically engineered super-assassins in designer black suits running around, you can only tell them apart using one of those FedEx bleep-bleep scanner-thingies.
Who’d have thought you could achieve so much by brain-washing boys with extreme Catholicism, organized crime, and Ave Maria on repeat?
Having despatched the entire Moscow SWAT-team, 47 goes on the run, chasing Russian gangsters.
Other agents of the assassins guild are after him; cue inventive fight in a subway train maintenance pit (very Transporter-inspired), followed by a ludicrous fight scene inside said subway carriage.
Thereafter, it is standard high-gloss action fare, including an update of Arnie’s night-club shootout from Raw Deal.
Director Xavier Gens (The Divide) and writer Skip Woods (A-Team, Swordfish) are squarely to blame for this Euro-pudding, generic shoot-em-up, with Russian Mafia, Interpol, CIA, FSB, DFS and RSI (I may have invented a couple of those), leaving the cast far too much ground to make up.
I will watch Dougray Scott read the phone book; he gets nothing so original to do here. Timothy Olyphant is a favourite TV actor but is as badly cast here as in Die Hard 4.0; just not cold or hard enough. And completely asexual. Would anyone with any testosterone in their body really turn down the repeated advances of a sizzling Kurylenko? Every action cliché in the book, and that’s where they decide to defy convention!
Which leaves us with a lot of gruff macho mumbling, a LOT of graphic violence and not much else.
While some of the Olyphant/Kurlenko scenes sparkle, the rest of Hitman is a strictly by-the-numbers videogame adaptation, just like Doom, Silent Hill and Resident Evil. This doesn’t bode well for Fassbenders’ upcoming Assassin’s Creed. RC
Director: Xavier Gens
Writer: Skip Woods
Genre: Thriller, Action & Adventure
Running time: 94 minutes
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Henry Ian Cusick
Related: Haywire (2011)