Hitman should be the movie that bucks the trend of terrible game to film adaptations. A simple premise; Agent 47, the Hitman of the title, is hired to infiltrate a variety of embassies, foreign agencies or crime rings to blast them to kingdom come. As a game player you have the choice of the subtle route (disguise yourself and pick off the baddies one by one) or the 80’s action star route (go in guns blazing and kill anything that moves). It almost sounds like a film pitch, so this really should be the film that bucks a trend that has included Doom, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill amongst a host of other adaptations of even more questionable quality.
Timothy Olyphant plays Agent 47, a hit man working for The Agency, who is hired to assassinate the Russian president for reasons never properly explained. This turns out to be a ploy to frame him and the rest of the film is taken up with him trying to find his bosses and generally get his own back. If it all sounds a little Bourne Ultimatum the execution of it couldn’t be less so. In a short opening sequence we are told that The Agency is so secret that no one knows of its existence, yet it somehow manages to travel the world acquiring orphans, shaving their heads and tattooing a barcode on them and training them as killers. The way it’s told they sound more a cross between Al Qaeda and a paedophile ring than a team of crack assassins. As adults they all dress in black suits, black ties and white shirts with their heads still shaved and the barcode visible for the world to see. Talk about standing out in a crowd! Yet the authorities seem unable to apprehend any of them, despite the fact that they walk through airport lounges and wander the streets in broad daylight. Obviously in the gaming world the police and Interpol aren’t the sharpest tools in the box.
Logic may not be high on the list of gamers' requirements but a film needs a certain amount of logic to keep it afloat, and here the film sinks fast. Olga Kurylenko is bought in as eye candy but after her initial appearance she really is surplus to the film's requirements, serving no purpose other than to try and get in Agent 47’s pants whilst continually reminding him that she isn’t wearing any.
Everything about the film feels wrong. The settings don’t look like the places they are meant to be, especially the opening scene supposedly set in London, and the whole think lacks any style or flair. The action scenes should be where the film comes into its own, but French helmer Xavier Gens even manages to botch those. A stand off between four Agents in a subway train should be the action highlight but, for no apparent reason, they put their guns down and draw swords. Some fun can be had trying to spot where the film has stolen, magpie like, from other, better films. Kill Bill, The Matrix, Bourne and Die Hard are all there, but eventually you just start to realize how bargain basement the whole thing is.
Without a good game to film adaptation in the can so far you would hope that film makers would realise they are flogging a dead horse and give up trying (even Peter Jackson saw sense and gave up trying to adapt Halo) but with more on the horizon it looks as though we will have to suffer for some time yet.