Videogame characters always have a trademark: think Mario's 'tache, Lara's 36DD bazookas or Masterchief's Spartan exo-suit. Agent 47's look is more minimalist, a bald bonce tattooed with an enigmatic barcode. Shaving his head for the role, Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) passed on having the barcode permanently inked on his noggin. Smart move. By the time he loses his hair naturally circa 2028, no one's gonna remember Hitman the movie.
Olyphant, a younger, leaner Billy Bob Thornton, deserves better. Shoehorned into the role after Vin Diesel bailed, he's an unlikely fit: yes, the slaphead complements the snarling curl of his smile and his weirdly lolling gait recalls the game character's awkward animation. But mostly he just looks like a gimp.
Laden with cinematic references, the games privileged brains over brawn (infiltrating an embassy you could either go in guns blazing and die quickly, or steal a waiter's clothes to pass unnoticed). They were smart, puzzle-angled shoot 'em ups. The only puzzle here is how French helmer Xavier Gens (Frontier(s)) botched such a simple transfer of action game to action movie. Shooting in Bulgaria, Gens produces something less realistic than its pixelated counterpart. It's all so cheap. Even the cast's bargain basement, with Dougray Scott marking time as Agent 47's Interpol nemesis, who's tracking the gunman after a botched hit on the Russian president. It's the beginning of an incomprehensible screenplay that only manages one decent action scene as Agent 47 battles Agents 44, 45 and 46 simultaneously.
Attempts to give the killer a love life fare even less well. On the run, 47 hooks up with Nika (Olga Kurylenko), a Russian tart in skank chic: mink coat, high heels, no panties. "You're very good with firearms, not so good with ladies' undergarments," she whispers, straddling the inexplicably chaste gunman. Lying rigid with fear beneath her, the red-faced, bald-headed Olyphant looks less like the iconic Hitman, more like a giant human knob. Which says it all really.
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Another month, another crappy videogame adaptation. Capturing the Euro feel of the games, this overdoses on plot at the expense of action while trashing the iconic cool of Agent 47. It's not directed by Uwe Boll, but you'd never guess.