Reviews Apr 03 2008 @ 08:00 am
Directed By: Xavier Gens
Written By: Skip Woods
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Well, I’m here to tell you that Hitman is an awesome contribution to the halls of cinema, and by ‘awesome’ I mean ‘not awesome’ and by ‘halls of cinema’ I mean ‘tradition of consistently pathetic video game adaptations.’ I guess I have to look on the bright side: this review will be an awful lot of fun to write.
So there’s this place where they train kids from childhood to become super assassins that’s shown in brief vignettes during the opening credits. These guys are the best of the best, ‘ghosts’ that can kill anyone, anywhere. They also all have shaved heads and a barcode tattooed into the back of their skulls which, when you think about it, is only a few rungs down on the conspicuous ladder from bright-red-mohawk-with-blue-dyed-skin. Anyways, Timothy Olyphant plays number 47, one of the aforementioned super assassins, who’s being tracked by an Interpol cop (Dougray Scott), and when extraterrestrials take over Moscow and turn the locals into farting monkeys, 47 will have to team up with a Russian beauty (Olga Kurylenko) to save the world by proving that his inner child isn’t dead and that yes, gosh-darnit, people do like him! Also, I made some of that up.
But who cares about the plot when I can talk about what is easily the most fascinating part of this film: the credits. I’m not sure if the director or writer were smoking a little too much of the wacky-tabacky that day, or if the guy on credits duty got a little too enthusiastic with his work, but they are pretty sweet (in an inexplicable sort of way). For example, a number of the cast have the word ‘another’ placed in front of their title: ANOTHER DEALER, ANOTHER OFFICER, etc. I’m sure the thinking went that since DEALER and OFFICER are soooo passé, it would be much more mysterious if they were ‘Another’ one of their respective occupations, leading me to the obvious conclusion that we all wear masks to hide who we really are, and that my rebirth will occur only when I become ‘Evan’ instead of ‘Another Evan,’ which is a masquerade my sub-conscious conducts for the world. Thankyou Hitman, thankyou.
There are also credits like SWANKY RESTARUANT WAITER and YURI’S GUY #3. The former led me to go back and re-watch the scene in question, revealing that yes indeed, there was a slight swankiness in the corner of the actor’s eyes that gave the whole episode a delicate subtext that had completely gone over my head before. The latter, as I’m sure you’ll agree, raises some troubling existential questions, since GUY #1 and #2 are conspicuously absent. Most telling of all is that the film was directed by Xavier Gens, written by Skip Woods, and executive produced by Vin Diesel. Contrary to popular opinion, the sweetest movie in the world does not coalesce from putting people named Xavier, Skip, and Vin in a room together. Sigh, if only there had been an Uwe in the mix, things might have turned out differently.
I can hear the question you’re sure to be asking right now: “Ok, I get that the credits are pretty sweet, but does Hitman deliver on the juicy cinematic clichés?” I’m glad you asked! Yes, yes it does. There is the John Woo Mexican Standoff Not Directed By John Woo (why have just two people pointing guns at each other and not shooting when you can have four?), the Character Who Possesses Omniscient Bible Trivia Skills (I totally believe he could recall Psalm 35 from memory!), the Ethnic Characters Who Start Talking In Their Native Language But Break Into English When They Get Tired Of The Subtitles, and the ever popular Insta-Chemistry (for those of you not in the know, that’s when a director gets tired of pretending his romantic leads possess even a shred of passion betwixt one another and just has them fall in love…magically. Also known as the Colin Farrell-Li Gong effect).
In all seriousness, does Hitman accomplish anything that it sets out to do? It is gorgeous (props to cinematographer Laurent Bares), there are some mildly decent action sequences (even if they are painfully obvious rip offs of Die Hard and The Matrix), and there are the requisite videogame shout-outs (which, I have to admit, were handled quite unobtrusively). But if you’re looking to scratch that blood ‘n bullets guilty pleasure itch, rent Shoot ‘Em Up or see the original Die Hard instead. Don’t worry about losing any sleep wondering whether or not the elusive videogame adaptation masterpiece has finally been unearthed.