by Irma Arkus

Rating: 1 Banana, 2 Crabs

I enjoyed playing Hitman, the game. Both of them. Hitman is a marvelous creature, facing impossible tasks, killing… It is a game full of beauty, cruelty, and it puts James Bond to shame when comparing skill sets. Oh, sure. Hitman is a clumsy eunich with the ladies, but he is ready for a kill. Always ready, like Batman. Or Ready Man. Or Hitman. I can write an entire Ode to Hitman.

So, when news of Hitman, the movie, came out, I was thrilled. With a lead like Timothy Olyphant, how can it go wrong?

Directed by Xavier Gens, who is an inexperienced, young and still disoriented French import, Hitman fails to live up to expectations. Gens’ direction is clumsy, fragmented, and inconsistent, and his cinematography is heavy, and constantly changing. Fight scenes go from being beautiful routines to that flickering fragmented camera trick borrowed from Gladiator (and I hate that stuff, because it makes me feel like I’m going blind). Gens just doesn’t seem to have a clear vision of what he is meant to accomplish. Gens is lame.

The plot though, is the real weak point. In fact, I swore tonight that any script by a guy called Skip, or Chad, should probably be overlooked and filed in the “special recycling bin.” This one though, is Skip’s fault. Skip Woods is the man solely responsible for such terrible scripts as Swordfish (2001), and is currently working on G.I. Joe (2009) – make note that whatever that ends up being, you should probably resist the urge to see it. In fact, one could almost say that because of Skip, a franchise of beautiful, bloody Hitman movies, is never going to see the light of day. Skip too is lame. No, wait. Skip is superlame!

What did Skip do? Well, in Skip’s hands, this is what the plot looks like: Hitman accepts a job to publicly execute a Russian politico, Belicoff, but the job must be done in public. This cramps Hitman’s style, as he likes to do things subtly rather than make a mess in a public arena. Plus, he is not really keen on being stalked by the paparazzi, so he likes to do the job and disappear. Even though he is successful, turns out, Belicoff has an evil double who is has been planning a takeover for years. Part of his plan is to eliminate all evidence of this, which includes killing an old girlfriend / slave girl/ hot Olga Kurylenko, and 47 himself. This of course goes against the initial premise of public execution – this could have been done quietly and in private – Presto! Changeo! I am Belicoff! He is hunted by the agency itself – which clashes with any hint of logic and / or is poorly explained.

Hitman spares the girlfriend because of her cute “tatoo” (read: T&A), and decides to kill Belicoff’s double…*yawn* Lots of illogical running around, gaining access, *yawn* *yawn again*, lame scenes with girl, *yawn*, more shooting randomly…and then impending end with death of whoever that guy who calls himself Belicoff was. Nil character development. Nil plot. Skip is lame.

The actors are wonderful though. Timothy Olyphant did a marvelous job as the lead, while Dougray Scott was equally impressive as the agent trying to find him. Olga Kurylenko was a pleasant eye-candy, but an entirely unnecessary one. It would have been nice to see her in an actual role that involved something more than pretending to be an average house cat: sleeping and walking around in underwear. Robert Knepper did a lovely job playing a villanous Russian security agent, and his Ruskii accent, although imperfect, is still quite impressive.

So, what is the ruling? – Skip the theatre, watch it on DVD. Also find Skip and encourage him to stop writing.