Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 18 News List

FILM REVIEW》Slaughter on parade, without a joystick

This computer-game-turned-movie is a complete waste of time for anyone who enjoys a plot and good acting

By Manohla Dargis  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Adolescent boys and no one else are likely to enjoy the bang-heavy Hitman.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF CMC

Based on the video game franchise of the same title, Hitman exploits every action-flick cliche imaginable and still manages to be dull. It's bang, boom, blah - action movies for bored dummies.

A strangely, at times ridiculously, miscast Timothy Olyphant stars as the titular contract killer, who has been raised by some monastic-looking male order to travel the world in bloody business class, from Africa to Europe to Russia. He's a globetrotting unholy man, a messianic messenger of murder. He's also bald, has a bar code tattooed on the back of his head and is known only as 47. Women leave him cold (if vaguely rattled), which probably comes as a relief to the movie's presumptive adolescent male target audience.

There's a hodgepodge story from the screenwriter Skip Woods, though its details are sufficiently uninteresting to the director, Xavier Gens, to make them uninteresting to anyone watching (or reading about) this mess. In Hitman, Gens, whose feature debut, Frontiere, earned legitimacy by playing at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, lavishes his attention on blowing stuff up, including dozens upon dozens of people. Life is always cheap in the exploitation racket, but it's still tiresome watching one after another anonymous extra get a sizable hole blown through his body, to watch movie blood spray like water amid chunks of fake body bits, especially when there's no story to speak of, no decent acting, no wit, no point.

Well, there is a point, which is to reel an audience in with an entertaining spectacle of death. In this regard, Gens fails, despite owing a visual and thematic debt to Luc Besson, whose company helped produce this junk. There's loads of noisy violence and gore in Hitman, along with the regulation female nudity (via Olga Kurylenko), but these flashy parts never cohere or gather momentum.

Film Notes

HITMAN

DIRECTED BY: XAVIER GENS

STARRING: TIMOTHY OLYPHANT (47), DOUGRAY SCOTT (MIKE WHITTIER), OLGA KURYLENKO (NIKA), ROBERT KNEPPER (YURI MARKLOV), ULRICH THOMSEN (BELICOFF), MICHAEL OFFEI (JENKINS), HENRY IAN CUSICK (UDRE BELICOFF)

RUNNING TIME: 100 MINUTES

TAIWAN RELEASE: TODAY


Rather, Olyphant's robotic assassin moves through corridors in effective mimicry of a familiar video game visual strategy, pausing every so often to peer through a gun scope, stare at the pulsing lights on his laptop or brutally dispatch one more generic human obstacle. On occasion, the story shifts to Dougray Scott, whose indifferent turn as an Interpol agent chasing after 47 nicely mirrored my own reaction to the on-screen din.

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