Botched Hit


on November 21, 2007 by Chad Greene

“What are you going to do?” the hooker with the heart of tarnished gold (Olga Kuylenko) asks the taciturn contract killer who has liberated her from sexual slavery.

“What I do,” replies the anonymous assassin known only by the last two digits of the barcode tattooed into the back of his head.

Only the deadpan delivery of Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47 enlivens the wooden dialogue of this collection of clichés masquerading as a silver-screen adaptation of the Hitman videogame series. Skip Woods’ script suffers from remaining too true to the cold-and-calculating nature of its genetically engineered anti-hero. Hitman: Codename 47 and its subsequent sequels are, tellingly, what gamers refer to as “third-person shooters,” and director Xavier Gens does little to bridge the gap between the audience and the inner life of the contradictory character raised from birth to be an assassin by—of all things—a black-robed religious order.

Due to that cloistered childhood, Agent 47 has a hard time relating to people; and they, in turn, will likely have a hard time relating to him.

Although Gens lightens the mood by inserting in-jokes -- in one scene, 47 crashes through the window of a hotel room occupied by a couple of teens playing Hitman -- decisions such as having Olyphant trudge around in the halting gait of a videogame character result in a botched Hit.

Speaking of which, the cryptic plot of Hitman is set in motion when a client refuses to pay 47 for assassinating the president of Russia, insisting that his sniper attack was unsuccessful despite the fact that he did not miss. So Agent 47, and the audience, has to untangle a complicated plot involving the president’s mistreated mistress, his duplicitous double, his black-market arms dealer brother, and a couple corrupt Russian intelligence agents. As if that weren’t enough, there is also a dogged Interpol agent (Dougray Scott) who’s been trying to track down 47 for years. Oh, and the CIA is also involved …

Predictably, this results is a series of ever-escalating shootouts. The problem is that, to paraphrase Kuylenko’s character, Olyphant’s Agent 47 is much more charming when he isn’t trying to kill people.

Distributor: Fox
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kuylenko, Robert Knepper and Ulrich Thomsen
Director: Xavier Gens
Screenwriter: Skip Woods
Producers: Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Charles Gordon and Adrian Askarieh
Genre: Action
Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Running Time: 107 min.
Release Date: November 21

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