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Hitman (2007)
Rated R

Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, and Olga Kurylenko

Rating:
***
out of
*****

As Hitman opens, we see a collection of children being trained as hired killers. We're not given much information about who they are or who is training them, but we can see that they're all badass, bald, and have a UPC code tattooed on the back of their head. The film's titular character is Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) and he's one of these lethal kids all-grown-up. He was never given a real name and apparently wasn't taught anything about the ways of the opposite sex.

In what might sound like a pitch for a high-concept comedy, Hitman's story centers around the cold and emotionless Agent 47 dealing with what seems to be his first encounter with a woman. That woman, a Russian prostitute named Nika (Olga Kurylenko), is thrust into his life after he attempts to kill Russian Premier Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen). This odd couple are pursued by Interpol agents and the Russian military as Agent 47 attempts to get revenge on those who hired him and got him involved in an international cover-up.

Hitman is based on a series of videogames that also feature a bald killer named Agent 47. Despite being a videogame fan, I have never played any of the "Hitman" games, so I can't comment on how faithful this film adaptation manages to be. However, as an action movie fan, I can say that Hitman is predictable but has a fair share of entertaining moments.

Timothy Olyphant, who first came to my attention as the slimy boyfriend in The Girl Next Door, does a good job of playing the steely 47. He provides a good balance of humor and menace, as well as the right amount of physicality for the role. The real eye-catcher of the movie, however, is Olga Kurylenko. She's not a great actress by any stretch of the imagination but she has a unique look that serves the character of Nika quite well. Both actors have pedigrees in big action films. Olyphant played the bad guy in the most recent Die Hard film and Kurylenko will be featured in the next James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

While it's hardly high-brow filmmaking, Hitman succeeds where other action/espionage flicks so often fail. The action scenes are exciting and not overly complex. Many action movies try to make everything happen on an epic scale and the fundamental characters get lost on-screen and it's hard to tell who's doing what. That's not the case with Hitman. Every fight scene and shoot-out is fun-to-watch and easy-to-follow.

The plot is full of cookie-cutter stereotypes and the storyline isn't terribly intricate or thought-provoking, but the movie delivers an entertaining, if gory, hour and 40 minutes of action and adventure. Sometimes that's all you need.

Trivia: When the project was first announced, Vin Diesel was going to star as Agent 47. Despite Timothy Olyphant taking over, Diesel is still credited as executive producer. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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