A by-the-numbers thriller with that distinct made-for-cable feel, Xavier Gens’ Hitman should’ve and would’ve premiered on a lesser medium if it weren’t based on the popular video game series of the same name.
And it would have been better off for it: this Bourne-lite pic is watchable and competently made, but best suited to late-night cable viewing, where a jumpy narrative and tonal shifts would be less distracting.
Timothy Olyphant stars as Agent 47, emotionless hitman with a barcode tattooed on the back of his shaven head, bred to be an assassin by the mysterious Agency.
A needlessly complex double-crossing, with 47 sent to kill the Russian president, leaves our hero the target of the Agency, inept Russian police, and Interpol agent Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott). Russian hooker and presidential mistress Nika (Olga Kurylenko), also targeted to be killed, joins 47 in trying to make sense of the situation.
Olyphant is a terrific actor and does his best with the thankless role of an expressionless automaton; the shaved-head look, however, just doesn´t suit him – executive producer Vin Diesel would have been better suited to the role.
Kurylenko comes off best as the frisky, vampy Nika, whose ball-of-fire personality is nicely played off of Olyphant´s Agent 47; their relationship makes little sense in any kind of logical way, but it´s one of the things I liked best about the film.
Action scenes are most disappointing, with director Gens trying (and failing) to emulate Paul Greengrass´ quick-cut, handheld-cam Bourne stylistics.