Hitman is yet another example revealing that Hollywood has no idea of what video gamers want out of a film adaptation. It’s no secret that movies based on video games are typically hollow and nonsensical, especially with the likes of Uwe Boll running around, but sometimes, it just boggles the mind. I wish directors and producers would take a step back and ask themselves, “If this were just an original movie based on nothing, would it still make sense and would it still be enjoyable?” The answer here is “no.” Regrettably, even if you’re familiar with the source material, the answer is still “no.”
Let’s forget about the video game for a moment and try to tackle Hitman the movie. The protagonist is a super assassin codenamed Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant). He’s part of a mysterious group called the Organization that breeds a bunch of bald-headed super assassins, easily identified by the barcode on the back of their skulls. There appears to be some religious ties as well, but beyond the quick childhood shots in the beginning, we don’t get much background on our hero. He gets his orders through his laptop, but why he does what he does or what the motives of his Organization are is a mystery. 47 is pursued by Interpol Agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) who’s been chasing him for several years. Everything’s going fine for 47 until one of his marks amazingly comes back from the dead and the Organization starts hunting 47.
Beyond that, the story is kind of incomprehensible. At one point, three super assassins show up to kill 47 at a train station, but are inexplicably pointing guns at each other in a four-way Mexican standoff. Later, the brother of the bad guy has 47 dead to rights without our hero knowing, but doesn’t order 47 killed and instead goes about his business as usual, giving 47 the opportunity to lay waste to everyone around him. I will say that watching Hitman reminded me of better films, namely The Transporter and The Bourne Identity. Early on in the movie, 47 picks up an unlikely female companion and totes her around in the trunk of his car. Later, they build an unmotivated and ridiculous friendship, which ends with the girl getting the equivalent of Marie’s moped rental store. The difference with Hitman, however, is that while the other movies mentioned featured heroes that were very good and innovative at what they did, the extent of 47’s prowess is hiding weapons in obvious places.
I’ll admit that my familiarity with the video game is not deep, but it’s enough to recognize the camera angles inserted to mimic the third-person view of the game. It’s also enough to know that Timothy Olyphant was probably not the best choice for the role. It’s obvious he’s doing his best, but he’s too squishy around the edges and his voice is a little too velvety to really pull off the coldly indifferent demeanor the role calls for.
If there’s anything that Hitman does well, it’s how eerily it mimics the empty stories video gamers get with their games. Typically, the story doesn’t even matter since it’s the gameplay gamers are looking for. Story arcs and character development are nearly unheard of in games and even harder to pull off since pacing is impossible to control since it’s dependent on the player. Here, 47 has such a slight bend in his development you can’t bother to call it an arc. Since we don’t really spend any time with him before the inciting incident, we don’t know if there’s any change in his character, ultimately leaving the audience unsatisfied. At the end of it all, Hitman falls into the same category as all of the other lackluster video game cum movie cash cows that belong on the discount shelves at Wal-Mart.