"Hitman" is not a great film, but it has it's moments. It's easily the most mature videogame adaptation yet, but like other adaptations it borrows far too much from other more popular mainstream actioners.
Hitman (2007, Blu-ray)
Directors: Xavier gens
Producers: Luc Besson .... producer Vin Diesel .... executive producer
Writers: Skip Woods (written by) Based on the videogame "Hitman"
Features: * Four Featurettes * Gag Reel * Deleted Scenes * Trailers * digital Copy * Unrated Version * DTS HD 5.1
Timothy Olyphant ... Agent 47
Dougray Scott ... Mike Whittier
Olga Kurylenko ... Nika Boronina
Robert Knepper ... Yuri Marklov
Ulrich Thomsen ... President Mikhail Belicoff
Henry Ian Cusick ... Udre Belicoff
Michael Offei ... Jenkins
Christian Erickson ... General Kormarov
Eriq Ebouaney ... Bwana Ovie
Joe Sheridan ... Captain Gudnayev
James Faulkner ... Smith Jamison
Hitman Blu-ray Review
To be honest, I'm not much of a gamer so I am relatively unqualified to attest to just how well the film version of "Hitman" compares to the smash hit videogame. From what I've read and ultimately gathered, however, the film hardly follows the game at all and only bares a moderate comparison. That said, in many ways, "Hitman" is one of the most competent, mature videogame adaptations yet, which is surprising given the production woes this film allegedly underwent.
"Hitman" tells the story of Agent 47 (the capable, but occasionally wooden Timothy Olyphant), a barcoded, bald assassin working for an underground secret organization. He's hired to killed the Russian President, but when he's set up by his own agency, he must fight to uncover the mystery of why he was set up while protecting a prostitute named Nika (the stunning Olga Kurylenko), who knows the organization's secret.
The film, while moderately competent, is plagued with extreme familiarity. Basically the film is a retread of "The Bourne" series with the action, pacing, plot lines and even music, looking and feeling a bit more than just similar. "Hitman" is less designed after the hit videogame and modeled more after that series, giving it a not-so-fresh feel that's wholly unoriginal. The film does have it's strengths though, particularly in it's 'Unrated' form. The film is ultra violent and fun in a Saturday-afternoon-matinee sort of way, nothing more.
Timothy Olyphant gives it his all, using his wooden stance and structure to his advantage. He's a capable actor, who gives Agent 47 a faint but noticeable heart despite the film's ham-handed, tired characterization. Olga Kurylenko's Nika is sultry and seductive, to say the least and it's not surprising that Bond producers hand picked her as the next Bond girl. She tempts Agent 47 with her flesh more than once and the temptation proves rather enticing.
The film can perfectly be summed up within it's first few minutes, which actually borrows, quite literally, a sequence from the cult show, "Dark Angel." There just isn't anything in this film we haven't seen before. That is, except for a few of the action set pieces, some of which are rather fun to watch. One scene in particular, involves a band of assasins combating Olyphant's Agent 47 underneath a train. It's a wildly entertaining sequence and somewhat original, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
A sequence later in the film is obviously taken from "The Matrix" as Agent 47 shields himself from a bevy of bullets as he attempts to assassinate the Russian President's wayward brother, and partner in crime. It's a spectacularly violent sequence that's a joy to watch for action and gore hounds despite the fact that it is merely a retread of perviously seen material. Director Xavier Gens does manage to give the retreaded sequence some spark, making it at least worth the watch.
"Hitman" is not a great film, but it has it's moments. It's easily the most mature videogame adaptation yet, but like other adaptations it borrows far too much from other more popular mainstream actioners. If Jason Bourne wasn't already around, "Hitman" might have stood well as a decent actioner, but in a world where Bourne is the top assassin, just below James Bond, "Hitman" has little to offer other than dumb, corny, ultra violent fun. But the world does need those films too.
Film Report Card:
As entertainment: B+
As a film: C-
20th Century Fox presents the film in 2.35:1 widescreen at 1080p/AVC crammed onto a single-layer BD25 disc. Much like Fox's recent release of "Sunshine" the print hardly looks better than it's DVD counterpart. Still, the film is highly detailed and vibrant when it needs to be, but I couldn't help but think that a BD50 disc with a higher bitrate would have served the transfer better. Some digital compression and artifacting is present and black levels appear moderately artificial at times. A slight grain is also present during most of the film, an intentional, but irritating decision. This is a decent transfer, just not the best I've seen on the format, particularly from Fox, who typically churns out quality new releases.
At least the audio is a bit better. No surprise here, Fox presents the film in DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio. It's a rather aggressive, robust, engaging track with a nice three dimensional environment. Surrounds are put to good use, both in the front and rear. The film's intense score seemed to be tuned a bit higher than I would have liked, but this is an otherwise top notch mix.
This film was famously hacked and slashed before it's release so it's not surprising that most of the special features found on this disc are nothing more than EPK fluff, but still, what we have is worth watching. Features include:
• Unrated Version -- The film is presented in an unrated form giving the audience a longer, more violent version of the film.
• Four Featurettes -- Running nearly an hour in total, these short, but sweet featurettes cover a lot of material: from location shooting to stuntwork, score and even a comparison to the games--compete with interviews from the cast and crew. Worth a look.
• Deleted Scenes -- Five scenes, seven minutes of rightfully cut material. The only real scene of note is the darker alternate ending. It's worth a view.
• Gag Reel -- The usual assortment of line flubs, goofs and on-set shenanigans.
• Trailers -- Trailers for this film and other Fox titles.
• Digital Copy -- "Hitman" comes complete with a second disc (a DVD) which contains a digital copy of the film for use on hand held portable devices like iPods. It's a nice addition that I hope to see on more upcoming releases, if not all upcoming releases.
The film is presented in a blue "Elite" case and is pretty consistent with Fox titles.
Make no mistake about it, "Hitman" is not a very good movie, but it's also a lot of fun if you're in the right mood. The film is more in the vein of a straight-to-video carbon copy of a mainstream film rather than an actual mainstream film and that might disappoint some, but as far as videogame adaptations go, this one isn't too bad. The Blu-ray presentation is fairly solid, but the transfer could have stood to gain some detail from a BD50 disc instead of a BD25.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Recommendation: Worth a rent.
On DVD and Blu-ray disc: March 11th, 2008.
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----R. L. Shaffer