by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

No pretensions here. It's named Hitman and it's based on a video game, so there's no disguising the fact that it is intended as a guilty pleasure film. Fair enough. I like guilty pleasures as much as the next guy, but gratuitous violence and video games are not my particular guilty pleasures, so I was dreading this one. I figured the only thing that could make it worse would be a maverick werewolf cop who doesn't play by the rules. And by "the rules" I mean the cop rules, not the werewolf rules. The cop rules are fairly strict, while werewolves have a pretty informal code which mostly centers around not attacking any fellow werewolves. Professional courtesy. And also, when they are working their day jobs or there is no full moon, they generally give other werewolves a 15% discount. Any other behavior is pretty much within their boundaries, so a werewolf cop who doesn't play by the werewolf rules wouldn't be much different from one who does. Maybe he would let a fellow werewolf off with a warning instead of giving him a ticket.

Anyway, I was wrong about Hitman. It's a pretty decent flick.

Of course, some of the film's expected liabilities are inherent to the genre and could not be overcome. Obviously, a film based on a video game about a hit man can only be so good because a vast amount of running time will have to be devoted to mindless mass slaughter. The only way to make that work is to make it entirely tongue in cheek, and Hitman does lean partially in that direction, but in general it takes its blood and guts seriously. Despite that, the film makes absolutely no effort to be believable. Although Hit Guy is a bald dude with a bar code tattooed on the back of his neck, he makes no effort to disguise himself as he wanders through the world pursued by every counter-agent on the planet. Even little kids on the streets know him. "Hey, mommy, there's that killer guy. Can we get his autograph?" Call me crazy, but if I were Hittie and wanted to travel freely around airports, railway stations and city streets, I'd consider a wig. Because the film never makes a commitment either to realism, ala The Bourne Identity, or to parody, ala Shoot 'Em Up, it lives in an uncomfortable limbo between those extremes, and that doesn't really work.

The plot barely exists. It's about as interesting as one of those old-fashioned black-and-white film strips in elementary American History class. You remember them, the ones where the sound track made a ringing noise when the teacher was supposed to click over to the next slide. And it's not like a film strip about something interesting like the Civil War or Prohibition, but like one that explains every intricate background detail behind the Wilmot Proviso. I hear that those educational films are all animated and automated now. Some of 'em are even in color. I wonder if the new-fangled technology makes the Wilmot Proviso come to life. Probably not. I have a feeling it would be boring even if it were presented in 3-D IMAX by Jessica Alba swimming naked in a shark tank.

You're probably wondering why, if the film has a non-descript plot and a familiar mind-set, I enjoyed it.

A few reasons:

First, the character of the Hit Dude, known only as Agent 47, is quite interesting. He may have a license to kill, but in terms of sexual inclinations, he's about as far from James Bond as a man can be. We think he is probably a virgin. He has his chances, but he always finds a way to get out of sex, even if it involves knocking the gal out. This guy really has some issues. The back story is that he was an orphan who was raised from earliest infancy to be Agent 47, and nothing more. The lust for women would be a vulnerability, and he's been trained to remain invulnerable. This is the first time I can remember a hero designed for video game nerds who's just as unlikely to get laid as they are!

Second, Timothy Olyphant and Olga Kurylenko bring some life and humanity to their characters. Olyphant delivers lines like nobody else, and has the "amoral and off-kilter" schtick absolutely down to a science, to the point where he can use his odd eye movements and offbeat line readings to play an atypical hero (as he does in Deadwood), a villain (as he does in Live Free or Die Hard), or an anti-hero (as he does here). Ms. Kurylenko, meanwhile, is utterly charming and vulnerable. This is the first video game adaptation I can recall where I actually dug the main characters.

Finally, the film has some guilty pleasures that I do enjoy. The Hitster travels around glamorous foreign locales, ala James Bond, and the exterior daylight shots are splendid. The nighttime exteriors basically consist of cityscapes lit with colored lights in the manner of European tourist attractions, or maybe I should say in the manner of Dick Tracy, because the film has a certain comic strip ambience to it. Overall, the visuals in this film are surprisingly dramatic and effective.  Even better than that, Olga Kurylenko has not one but three nude scenes. Good ones, too. That IS my kind of guilty pleasure.

The overwhelming majority of critics who dismissed this film have some fair points, basically the same negatives I listed above. There were parts of the film that made me wince, but on balance I found it a reasonably appealing experience, despite the fact that I was predisposed to hate it.

DVD Blu-Ray


3 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
2 BBC (of 5 stars)
13 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
35 Metacritic.com (of 100)

Critics generally blasted the film, and the contempt level was even higher in the elite group of critics at Rotten Tomatoes, where only 6% liked it - one critic out of 18 - but the one who liked it was the influential Roger Ebert.




6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)
B- Yahoo Movies





Box Office Mojo. It grossed $39 million in wide distribution. It held the #4 slot for two consecutive weeks.





  • Olga Kurylenko showed her breasts in three different scenes, and about 90% of her bum in one of them.




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Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Way better than it sounds!