Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hitman! Like every other movie about Hitmen! Out now. (***3/10)

With every hit-man movie, there are certain cliches that must be observed. Great hit-man movies have only some of them. Bad hit-man movies have all of them. Hitman is a bad hit-man movie. Those cliches are - there is a a massive shootout in a hotel or an apartment building, a shootout that kills dozens, maybe hundreds of cops, because who cares if cops die? This hotel shootout likely involves one or more characters crashing into other peoples' rooms, and almost certainly ends with the hitman escaping, either by leaping off a balcony or by disguising himself as one of the dead riot cops. The killer then has to go after his own bosses for some reason, because they set him up. These bosses always work for a shadowy, never-explained organization that operates outside the CIA, Interpol, MI5 or what have you. The hitman never fully understands the complete setup himself, and there is always a woman around to help him learn more about himself. (Quite often a goth-chick who gets off on the danger.) Also, the number TWO hitman in the world is always resentful of the number ONE assassin, and goes after him. There is almost always female nudity, the number ONE assassin is always the "good" guy, and there is a target he just can't kill that sets him back on the path to decency. (A child, a woman, or an old high school friend.)

Movies with some or all of these features are as follows: Assassin, Assassins, Fulltime Killer, The Professional, The Specialist, La Femme Nikita, Point of No Return, Ghost Dog, The Killer, Prizzi's Honor, Le Samourai, Pulp Fiction, Panic, This Gun For Hire, Killer, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Smokin' Aces, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Whole Nine Yards, 2 Days in the Valley, 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Shoot 'Em Up, Crank, Kill Bill, Kill Bill 2, The Transporter, The Transporter 2, Grosse Pointe Blank, Red Rock West, Fallen Angels, Time and Tide, and many many others. Every one of those movies (with the possible exception of Point of No Return) is better than Hitman. Hitman uses every one of those cliches, mostly to startlingly bad effect. The Hitman in question is played by Timothy Olyphant, who for some reason appears to be channeling, or at least emulating, Keanu Reeves. Why, I wondered in watching this, would someone go out of their way to ACT like Keanu Reeves? And by that I mean an inanimate carbon rod. Olyphant plays Agent 47, a man who has been, along with many others, groomed from birth to kill people. His only name is 47, and he gets that name from the last two numbers in the bar code tatooed on the back of his bald head.

If secrecy is the idea here, and this group of hired killers is a bunch of "ghosts" who are never identified or seen, there are no witnesses ever, and no one is sure they exist...what's with the barcodes and bald heads? Wouldn't a bunch of people with shaven heads and barcode tatoos on their scalp be the most easily identifiable group of people on Earth? Wouldn't EVERYONE notice them? If you saw a guy like that in a bar on Canada Day, you would tell your friends. If you saw a guy like that moments after a president is assassinated, perhaps you would tell...the police? And if I were one of these shaved-head-barcode-tattoo hitmen, I would wear a hat. I would treasure my anonymity. I would attempt NOT to stand out from a crowd. But then, I don't kill people. And, judging by this movie, that should get me laid whenever I like. Of course, there has to be a woman who falls for the hitman. And seeing as Olyphant has the personality of a plum and the charizma of a bowl of wheat germ, the only identifiable reason she could have to fall in love with him is that he did not kill her.

And so...there are many people I have not killed. Should Scarlett Johanssen and Cate Blanchett and Famke Janssen all want to leap straight into bed with me simply because I did not kill them? This movie would have me believe this is the case. I now assume that whenever I meet a beautiful woman, she will likely beg me to have my babies simply because I left her alive. I asked my girlfriend if this was why she was with me, and she said that indeed it was. I have left her alive over the course of these past four years, and as such she is not only indebted to me, but also madly in love with me, since I spared her so generously. Single guys - I do this as a public service! Next time you see a hot girl in a bar, walk over and whisper in her ear - you're still alive, right? And when she says yes, then you say that you should celebrate that continued "living" with some sex. I have recently learned that no woman can resist this level of charm. Just try to say it with no emotion or charm (think like Keanu Reeves). It can't fail.

Hitman is very true-to-form, in that when hitmen have to fight each other to the death, they don't do so with guns. They have their own code of honour, and they usually use their fists or other weapons. In this case, swords. Olyphant clearly purchased his pants at the same place they made Bugs Bunny's fur. You know how in the Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny can seemingly produce objects at will by yanking them out of his fur? Olyphant's pants are similar, in that he can yank swords out of them. Swords that would have made it rather difficult to have that naked-boob sex scene earlier without chopping off some important parts. Swords that would have made it very difficult to do that running-through-the hotel and leaping-from-the-window thing without chopping off some important parts. Or, perhaps, that is why the sex scene never gets to actual sex. He has chopped off some important parts while carrying swords in his pants.

All you really need to know about Hitman, and about the contempt this movie has for it's audience, is this: When the assassins and executives and bosses and women and gun runners travel all over the world, the place they are is displayed on the bottom of the screen. Like this:

MOSCOW (Russia)
LONDON (England)
PARIS (France)

This movie thinks that we are smart enough to know what country contains the city Chicago, but dumb enough to need it spelled out to us that Moscow is in Russia. That is, this movie believes that we, the audience, are dumber than marsupials. Judging by the fact that this movie made 40 million dollars, domestically, at the box office, an awful lot of us actually are.


  1. What did you expect? It's a movie based on a video game...and not a very good one at that. My only hope is they don't kill Max Payne as bad. They've already thrown Quake to the dogs.

    Is nothing sacred anymore?

  2. I love it - based on a video nothing sacred? I have never played this video game, and in fact I didn't know that was the case. Now that I DO know, I can't say I'm terribly surprised.