Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is a professional contract killer, hired by governments to clean up their messes, and paid handsomely for his trouble. He is a creature of habit, and always in control. That is, however, until his employers inform him that the parameters for an upcoming hit on Mikhail Belicoff, president of Russia, have been changed. The hit must happen sooner, and it must be made public. 47 reluctantly agrees to the change in plans, and carries out the assassination in full view of the president’s adoring public, as well as the prying eyes of the media. Satisfied that he’s hit his mark, 47 prepares to claim his payment, but there’s a problem; Belicoff is still alive. Complicating matters is the presence of a witness, Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko), who must be taken out if 47 is to complete his mission. Soon it becomes apparent that 47 has been set up by his own employers, as his location is compromised, and he finds himself caught between the assassins of his own mysterious agency, a persistent Interpol investigator (Dougray Scott), and vast government conspiracy orchestrated by the very people who hired him to do the job in the first place. Despite the odds, 47 is intent on finishing the job he started, and, with Nika in tow, he goes about doing what it is he does best – one kill at a time.
As a gamer who’s played and loved every installment of Eidos Software’s Hitman franchise, the casting of Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) as the follically challenged “47” proved something of a concern, as, in my mind, 47 had always been something of a grizzled and impassive character, better suited to the likes of a Jason Statham, or a Vin Diesel (who was once attached to the role, resulting in an executive producer credit on the project) rather than the comparably baby-faced Olyphant. As it turns out, Olyphant’s boyish good looks and charm go a long way toward fleshing out the character, painting him as an emotionally stunted teenage boy in a killer man suit. He’s chemically drawn to Nika, but mentally unable to grasp the feelings that are welling within him. While 47 tries to mask his resistance to the lovely Russian girl’s advances as professional detachment, it’s obvious that he’s terrified of her, as his wide eyes and subtle expressions betray him whenever Nika gets too close. Olyphant’s chemistry with Kurylenko is palpable, and the sexual tension built up between the two reaches a fever pitch during one scene, culminating in a rather unexpected and funny “climax”.
Hitman is a highly stylized thriller that’s equal parts John Woo shoot-em-up, and gleefully over-the-top action flick in the mold of “The Transporter” films. Director Xavier Gens delivers the requisite amount of post-Matrix slow-mo shootouts, lots of flashy fisticuffs, and an unexpected amount of steamy sensuality, courtesy of white hot Ukrainian actress Kurylenko. This is some seriously violent, sexy, fun, and exciting stuff!
Fox presents Hitman in a 1080p AVC encoded transfer that is a bit softer than some of the most recent Fox releases, but still much sharper and more defined than its DVD counterpart (which I’d screened earlier). This is a very atmospheric film, filled with smoke, fog, shadows, and ambiance, and the transfer handles these various situations admirably, with only minor amounts of cinematic grain and no artifacting or blocking to speak of. It’s not a flawless transfer, as Hitman lacked the three dimensional quality of Fox’s “The Day After Tomorrow” and “I, Robot”, but it’s still the best looking option for home viewing.
The DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless track, on the other hand, is an absolute gem, with incredible definition in the highs and lows, and a fantastically immersive multi-channel mix.
Hitman features a nice assortment of supplements, made all the nicer due to the fact that they’re all in HD! Four brief featurettes - “In the crosshairs: The making of Hitman”, “Digital Hits”, “Instruments of Destruction”, and “Settling the Score” - are rounded out by a gag reel, a selection of trailers for other FOX BD’s (including an AVP: Requiem trailer I’ve never seen), and more.
Action film aficionados willing to suspend their disbelief for ninety minutes will be rewarded by an absolutely kick-ass shoot-em-up featuring some unbelievably cool fight sequences, over-the-top violence, and one of the sexiest femme fatales to hit the screen in ages. Timothy Olyphant surpassed my expectations in the role of 47, and one can only hope this is only the beginning of this character's dark adventures.