Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Hitman

Massive illogic abounds throughout the video-game-based thriller Hitman, starting with the opening, which posits a mysterious organization "so secret no one knows it exists," even though it somehow maintains "ties to every government." The organization raises unwanted children to be super-assassins who can infiltrate anywhere, and yet, as part of their commitment to professional invisibility, they're all shaved bald and tattooed with UPC symbols on the backs of their heads. Leaving aside what exactly the symbols are for—alas, super-ruthless anti-hero Timothy Olyphant (of Deadwood fame) never tangles with a supermarket laser scanner, so we never find out what he'd ring up as, or how much he costs per pound—how are assassins supposed to blend into crowds and escape their kill zones without a trace when they're all practically wearing signs that say "Look at me! I belong to a secret society!"?

The plot doesn't make much more sense. First, Olyphant is ordered to publicly assassinate moderate Russian president Ulrich Thomsen, which he does easily. But then Thomsen turns up alive, and the shadowy organization starts sending surprisingly incompetent bald, UPCed über-killers to eliminate Olyphant. Clearly someone not fond of Thomsen's moderate politics has replaced him with a hardliner double, and Olyphant is considered a loose end. But why pay a pro to murder Thomsen amid tons of witnesses and TV cameras, leaving behind ample proof that he's dead, plus a world-class-dangerous witness, instead of just quietly swapping in the dopplegänger behind the scenes? How can the organization afford to betray and murder Olyphant over a routine head-of-state killing, when he's clearly the only remotely skilled trainee they've ever produced? Most importantly, why does sleazy Russian conspiracy victim Olga Kurylenko keep flirting with Olyphant even after he's shot her full of a knockout drug to stop her from drunkenly mounting and humping him?

The only possible explanation for most of Hitman is a "This would totally rawk!" mentality (courtesy of Swordfish screenwriter Skip Woods) that doesn't let common sense or overall plot coherence get in the way of a moderately stylish scene or two. Which explains why, for instance, when Olyphant's would-be killers come for him, they all initially point their guns at each other instead of at him, so they're standing in a Reservoir Dogs-like gun-aiming circle. Or why Kurylenko keeps stripping around Olyphant, no matter how indifferent he proves to her nudity, or how much Three Days Of The Condor-style abuse he hands her. For the first third or so, Hitman is a generic but reasonably kinetic blend of the Bourne Identity series and style-over-substance fests like Equilibrium. But by the time Olyphant leaves an enemy in the most ridiculous deathtrap since the '60s Batman, just because it looks kinda neat, the whole project has become Ultraviolet 2: The Further Stupidening.