Hitman is the adaptation of the EIDOS videogame, as the credits proudly tell us at the start of the film, and tells the story of Agent 47, possibly the best hitman in the world who was genetically engineered and altered psychologically from a very early age. Bald, and tattooed with his number on the back of his head, he accepts missions from a group called The Organisation and does nothing else other than kill.
The film does make some departures from the videogame plot, and for the most part these departures are good for the story. What’s also interesting is that it isn’t as bad as some of the clips have suggested to date, in fact it was good fun.
Here’s a surprising thing, Vin Diesel was an Executive Producer on the film – yes I stay till the very final credits – I do remember that Diesel was touted as Agent 47 way back but that never came to fruition, could it be a little nod to the actor, or was he really on the project?
Just to make a quick pit stop in the review and give a huge thanks to the staff at Vue Cinema Ocean Terminal for helping Filmstalker so much, and particularly with their added support for this new batch of reviews.
Honestly it’s such a convenient cinema to get to in Edinburgh, a really nice location, and there’s a few good places to eat nearby…although you have to remember to leave space for a hotdog…and some ice cream…and I wonder why I’m putting on weight!
So big thanks to Vue and back to Hitman. I have to admit that with all the stories and clips about the film I had been wondering if this was going to be a good film, there were a few points that I found were against it from the start.
The first is the history of videogame adaptations; they haven’t been great historically, although saying that there are some really good films adapted from videogames that people seem to forget about.
Then there was the casting of Timothy Olyphant. While I think he’s a good actor I didn’t think he really suited the role of Agent 47, close, but there’s something that just doesn’t fit there for me. Let the record also show that I don’t think Vin Diesel was at all right for the role, and that Jason Statham is much close than either, but he’s not quite right either.
There was also that clip from the film showing Agent 47 engaged in the beginnings of some sexual activity with a good looking, and rather naked, young lady. Now that surprised me because the scene felt awkward and really did go against the grain of the character.
Finally there was that entire plot line that had Agent 47 being drawn to a woman and some kind of connection with possible romantic element coming into it. All these issues together had me concerned that the film was going to be off the mark and wildly miss it.
However I have to admit that the film surprised me, and that most of these issues were addressed pretty well, and in some cases there wasn’t really a problem.
It’s not a fantastic film, but it’s a strong adaptation of the Agent 47 character, and I could see this leading to something more, if given half the chance. So let’s look at the film.
Oh, and the film is a solid fifteen certificate in the UK, and I do think that’s the upper end of what would be a fifteen. There’s nudity, there’s swearing, and there’s a lot of action with a healthy splattering of blood. Just what every gamer and teenager over fifteen wants to see.
The story departs slightly from the Hitman videogame series, but not a great deal. Agent 47 still has the same past history, but it seems that many of his fellow Agents survived and they appear throughout the film, usually being beaten, shot, or already dead.
He has to live in the real world, something that I don’t think is really addressed too much in the videgames, but is met head on in the movie. He rents hotel rooms, walks the streets, drinks in bars and mingles with the public.
This brings up the first issue for the film, because it’s based in a more real world than the videogame, just by the very nature of the medium, you do start to wonder how the character can walk around the streets in his black suit, red tie and his bald and barcoded head without anyone making a connection.
Sure I understand that the character makes his hits in secret and is very inventive, but when he is finally seen by the Interpol agents on his trail you’d think the reports of his whereabouts would start pouring in, especially with so many black suited, bald and barcoded agents around the world.
However I like the way the real world situation is addressed here, for instance the scene of Agent 47 sitting at a bar having a drink and accidentally attracting the attention of a gorgeous lady. She breaks the conversational ice, comes over, and introduces herself, making it clear she’s single and interested.
Agent 47 has no idea how to respond and just looks at her and her outstretched hand. She prompts him for his name and he excuses himself, walking to his room and abandoning the drink he had.
That is the way you would expect the character to behave in the real world, and for the most part that’s how he behaves in the film. However there are a few moments where the emotion begins to show, and usually with the girl involved, and that’s where one of my concerns lay.
Introducing the female character to the story could have been very risky, especially the fact that Agent 47 connects so well with her. Yet the story manages it quite well, and may I say rather subtlety too.
The relationship doesn’t descend into Hitman going goggle eyed over her, you can tell there’s confusion, and a number of times he comes close to killing her. He even locks her in the boot of his car and drugs her at one point – and that makes for a rather amusing moment, a few of which are in the film.
By the end of the film you actually think that the plotline of the girl might be a good addition to the story, and not just the story in this film. Addressing that clip of the sex scene that I was concerned about, there’s no need, it’s handled very well and also raised a laugh or two.
The main plot is a rather good idea, but it seems raced through, and often there’s no justification for events other than the characters are just doing them. We’re not given a lot of back story and development of the characters around Agent 47 and the woman he’s protecting, and I do think the film suffers a little for that.
Further development of the Interpol agents and the Russian politician could have given us more depth to the film, and perhaps more engagement and tension, because as it was I did feel that the scenes lacked tension and drama that were required.
I wasn’t really sitting there wondering if the character was going to make it, or feeling myself getting more and more on the edge of my seat as the armed police arrive outside his door and moments draw closer to when they attack. Even the chase sequences didn’t really get my pulse racing, although they were well handled.
There’s a good number of action sequences which were well handled for the most part, although the last big fight sequence did go into Bourne territory for me and become a little too much to keep following on screen.
The previous sequences were slower, better paced, and well thought out, although the meeting of multiple Agents together was rather amusing.
That leads me to another point about the film, there is some humour in it, although I’m not sure if all of it is intentional or not. The humour often comes out of the sheer ridiculousness of the situation that Agent 47 finds himself in, usually that’s because he cannot deal with real people or real situations.
Visuals throughout the film were good, not just on the action sequences. There were quite a number of shots that were taken straight from the game and transferred to the big screen, and even a casual gamer would recognise them. The great thing is that they don’t intrude on the film but do provide a moment of recognition for those that have played.
There’s also a good use of music through the film, and in these two areas it really does try to keep the tension and suspense up, but it just doesn’t manage.
One thing about the audio that I noticed was the large amount of dubbing that was done, there are a number of scenes where you can see the character saying something slightly differently to what’s being said on screen. You can even hear this in the voices or in that there’s just something not right when they speak.
It’s not a great problem, but something I found distracting. A couple of the actors playing Russians were also pretty poor, in the final scenes there’s one whose accent is so bizarre I can’t even begin to think where it came from.
Dougray Scott is a bit of a surprise too, there are moments when you hear him speaking slowly and deliberately, as though he’s forcing the words out. It’s almost as if he was told to slow down because of his accent.
Timothy Olyphant created a very good Hitman. I’m sure there are purists, and I did feel a twinge of this during the film, that would say he shows a little too much emotion in the character, that’s too much rather than none.
I think he does a really good job, I still don’t think he’s perfect, but he’s close, and this version of Agent 47 requires a little bit of emotion and reality in the character.
Overall I don’t think the film is half bad, it certainly is a lot better than expected. There are some laughs, and some of those are actually in the story, Agent 47 is adapted well, the story is quite good, and the side story of the Interpol agents chasing him works too.
However, there’s something missing. At times it feels bitty and doesn’t flow well through the story, the main plot thread seems chopped down and squeezed out a little, and there are some overly spelled out moments. Good entertainment for the weekend though, and as the videogame adaptations have gone this isn’t a failure.