When Third-Person Shooters Go Hollywood -- 1.5 stars

Directed by Xavier Gens. November 2007, USA. Rated R: 93 min.

(Originally published in buzz magazine on 11/26/2008)

Written by Skip Woods, directed by Xavier Gens, and based on a hit videogame series of the same name, Hitman tells the story of a chrome-domed contract killer who possesses a machine-like shot accuracy and personality. Agent 47 (played by Timothy Olyphant) terminates his targets with a deadpan stone-face more befitting of a statue than a man. Think Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, except he’s bald, wears a suit and tie — instead of black-and-yellow jumpsuit — and shoots with a silenced pistol instead of a phaser.

After receiving money from a previous hit, Agent 47 receives a mission to snipe Russian President Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen) in broad daylight, which he accepts even though he would prefer to blast Belicoff in private. He does, however, refuse to murder Nika (Olga Kurylenko), a hooker with a heart of gold, who his boss claims witnessed the crime. A split second of eye contact with her confirms that she never saw him before. Shit hits the fan when Belicoff appears on television the next day with a bandage on his head…as if that would heal a puncture from a sniper round. Determined to get to the bottom of this debacle, Agent 47 abducts Nika and stalks Belicoff.

While fun to watch, Hitman breezes over explanations and character development. As is the case with many action flicks, the story unravels too quickly to comprehend the convoluted plot twists. Agent 47’s origins are still largely a mystery at the end of the film.

And why don’t people stare at the barcode tattooed to the back of his shiny melon? I can’t help but wonder if some cheeky grocery store cashier ever tried to scan it as a joke, later being blown to a pulp from the ignition-triggered bomb wired to his car’s engine.