Friday, September 18, 2015

Hitman (2007)

I meant to get to this backlog entry a few weeks ago when it would have been more timely right when the new Hitman: Agent 47 film hit theaters. I think it still is in a smattering of theaters as of this writing, but to highlight the new Agent 47 film I am covering the first film based on the best-selling videogame series from IO Interactive that came out in 2007 and simply called, Hitman (trailer). I watched my old DVD copy of this film quite a few times, but a few years ago I upgraded to the BluRay release and finally got around to busting it out again.

Timothy Olyphant does the honors as the elite assassin who simply goes by the name 47. After a well shot routine mission setting up how much of a pro 47 is at his services, he is tasked with taking down the Russian president, Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen). Needless to say, not all goes according to plan when 47 discovers his agency set him up and finds himself simultaneously on the run and still wanting to finish the job he started. Along the way he kidnaps/rescues one of Belicoff’s mistresses by the name of Nika (a pre-Quantum of Solace Olga Kurylenko) to aid him on his mission. To top it off two persistent Interpol agents (Dougray Scott & Michael Offei) are constantly on 47’s tail and determined to track down their guy.

I agree with some of the extra feature interviews on the disc that refer to Hitman as a darker version of a 007 film. I think the film still stands out eight years later and the action still really pops in high def on BluRay. The film was initially R rated, but the BluRay is unrated so expect a few more gritty shots of the action. The film has a perfect blend of reconnaissance for plotting out assassinations, building on 47 and Nika’s doomed relationship, Interpol and the CIA constantly being one step behind 47 and knowing when to jump to an all out action scene to keep your blood pumping. The cinematography of the gunfights and up close hand-to-hand combat is exquisitely shot and had me engaged through each intense action scene.

I played a fair amount of the original Hitman games, and I think the film does a fantastic job of being a faithful representation of the game. I think Olyphant nailed all the idiosyncrasies from the 47 character such as his trademark assassinations, signature poses and even down to the cadence of how he walked in the game all worked in smoothly into the film. Like the games, how 47 takes out a target in the film can play out in a variety of ways either through a stealthy attack in a remote location, thoroughly plotting out the ideal sniper spot for a hasty and safe escape route, sneaking around security by doing 47’s trademark costume swap, or by simply going in guns blazing. Pay close attention and you will recognize other little nods to the games throughout the film that showed the filmmakers went above and beyond to make this a good faith adaption of the games, to which I feel they pulled off in spades.

I thought Hitman went down the appropriate route of how Nika and 47’s relationship plays out. By 47’s nature he is not one destined for romance despite Nika’s advances, but the two end up forming an unlikely friendship as the film progresses, and 47 had a handful of dry wit quips at Nika’s expense that had me cracking up throughout. One nitpick I have is by the end of the film 47 does crack a full on smile that I felt went against his character, and it just did not seem right to see 47 so….happy. I also liked the supporting story arc with the Interpol agents tracking 47 down while trying to dodge Russia’s secret police. In one of the standout scenes of the film, 47 has a heart-to-heart talk with one of the Interpol agents in a very powerful scene. Naturally, Hitman climaxes in its final act when 47 makes one final, grand attempt at taking out Belicoff, and it delivers with the best action shots yet in the film and lots of planning for the assassination involved to keep you guessing on how they pulled it all off.

There are several extras along with a few deleted scenes and a gag reel totaling a little over an hour in extra features. In the Crosshairs is a 24 minute in-depth look at casting the film, adapting it from the game and detailing how much work they put into the set design as it interviews all the major cast and crew members. Digital Hits is a 10 minute feature that interviews the game developers and gaming press along with cast and crew on a overview of the Hitman games and why the series is a perfect fit for the silver screen.

I am a big fan of the score of this film as it reminded me a lot of the score used in the TV series 24 that was a perfect match for this film, so make sure to watch the Settling the Score extra which is a quick five minute interview with composer Geoff Zanelli. There are 8 minutes of deleted scenes, and most of them had me glad they were cut because they dragged out other scenes in the film, or were alternate shots of some other scenes that did not have the same effect as the film’s final product. I would have been pretty bummed out too if the film went with its alternate ending, so I am glad that was left on the cutting room floor as well.

This entry feels like me attempting to stand up and defend Hitman to the masses. I feel like I am one of this film’s few supporters because if I hear it discussed in podcasts, or referenced in articles running down the history of videogame-based films it usually gets classified as another clunker. It does not hold up too kindly on the popular film aggregate website, Rotten Tomatoes either with a critic aggregate score of a meager 14%. I have stated my case here why I am a huge fan of the film, and it was several years since I last saw Hitman and I thought it might not have held up after hearing all the negative opinions on it over the years. However, coming out of watching it again I am still really high on the movie, and while it may not be saying much in the grand scheme of its competition I still have Hitman tied with Mortal Kombat as my two favorite videogame movies of all time.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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