Until I saw Hitman, I’d only watched one film based on a game. That was Clue, loosely derived from the excellent board game I know as Cluedo. Now Clue wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, but alongside Hitman, it looks rather more like Citizen Kane.
Hitman is based on a computer game, and therefore comes from a world with which I’m unfamiliar. The premise is that a mysterious assassin, known only as Number 47, is destined for bad things from boyhood – and his bald pate is stamped with a bar code, for reasons which escaped me. Number 47 is played by Timothy Olyphant with a doughty relentlessness, but the screenplay defies any serious attempt at subtlety of characterisation. A good actor, Dougary Scott (excellent in a much more intelligent thriller, Enigma) is wasted in a role as a secret agent.
Roughly speaking, Number 47 becomes embroiled in a complicated plot concerning the supposed assassination of Belicoff, the Russian leader – or is the victim Belicoff’s double? A glamorous call girl, who sports a facial tattoo, is involved, and Number 47 becomes enamoured of her, saving her life on more than one occasion. The girl is played by Olga Kurylenko, previously known to me as the exotic Bond girl in Quantum of Solace. In this movie, we see quite a lot of Olga, in more ways than one, but despite her ready availability, Number 47 doesn’t succumb to her charms, In a film full of unbelievable things, this is one of the least credible.
I don’t like giving negative reviews of any book, tv show or film, but I can’t deny that – despite Olga’s lustrous presence – I lost interest in Hitman some time before the end. It is, at best, comic book stuff. When I checked the internet, I found that the Rotten Tomatoes site had given the film a paltry 15% approval rating. This was a relief, frankly. I’d hate to think I was so far out of touch that I’d completely missed the point of a modern masterpiece.