Death of the Critic

Why Did I Watch That? - Hitman (2007)

Written by: Tom Blaich


I watched a bad movie today. It is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine. Watching bad movies that is. I revel in the terrible plots, paper-thin characters, cheesy effects, and wooden acting. It fuels me. I love them in a way that I can’t quite describe, or feel about bad games or music. To me, bad films deserve to be recognized, talked about, and maybe occasionally ridiculed. This one is no exception.

There aren’t very many good video game movies. For some reason, it would appear that in the translation from games to film, something vital is lost. Condensing down the story and characterization of an entire franchise into a sub-two hour long movie is not an easy thing to do, and capturing the feel of gameplay, the driving force behind many games, in a human actor bound by the actual laws of physics is more than a little difficult.

As a franchise,
Hitman has never had the most compelling story, propped up almost entirely by the puzzle-like challenge of finding your way through each mission without breaking stealth, navigating the semi-open levels and seeing which parts interacted with each other in interesting ways.


In moving the game to the big screen, they did many things wrong, but they did manage to do one thing right, and that was to not care about the origins of our “hero”, Agent 47. He is here to kill people, and that is all that we really need to know about him, and it’s all that really matters. Outside of a quick scene at the beginning of the movie, we don’t really see anything about the origins of 47. No boring, lengthy training montages, or friends that come back late in the movie, or childhood love interests. Just an evil organization that makes children into (rather effective) killers.

But in this movie universe, they appeared to have forgotten the lessons on how to be quiet about it. The game is about being a silent assassin, with an emphasis on the silent, but the movie is all about the assassinations. Loud gunfights, explosions, and “epic” set pieces abound. Sure it looks cool to see Timothy Olyphant duel-wielding pistols or submachine guns, but it kind of misses the point when he leaves more bodies in his wake than the plague, with a trail a mile wide leading right for him. It is like watching someone’s first, high-chaos playthrough of one of these games instead of what an actual, hardened agent would do.


On the bright side, I thought that Olyphant actually managed to pull off a rather decent 47. He’s by no means as cold-blooded as he probably should be, what with the whole love-interest of Nika but he still does pull a snazzy figure in the trademark suit and tie, and when he does make threats, you feel like he might be able to pull them off. And it helps that I really like Timothy Olyphant. Dude’s dreamy.

The plot is more than a little nonsensical, with body doubles all over the place having me questioning who was actually alive at the end of the movie, or if the DVD would pull off a mask and reveal that it was in fact
Bloodsport the entire time. As an action movie it is barely mediocre, but as an adaptation of a beloved video game franchise it is truly disappointing, missing the inherent coolness of a sneaky assassin running around and doing his dirty work.

Also, apparently all the Agent’s carry dual wazikashis on their backs and they have a dumb sword fight on a train.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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