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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hitman

I know I’m always wrong, but don’t blame me. My father hit me up the side of my head with a shovel as a birthday present when I was eleven and I’ve never been right since. He wasn’t happy with the fact that I wanted to celebrate my natal beginnings instead of pull weeds in his garden, so he made his displeasure known in the only way he knew how to say “Feliz Navidad” without actually resorting to Spanish or murder. Eventually he would become adept at one but not the other; I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess which. The only hint I’ll give you is to say that he died never knowing how to order off the menu at Loco Polo if that helps. Loco Polo was our local Mexican eatery noted for having restrooms so dirty they earned the place the nickname Loco Polio amongst my Junior High crowd.

As for me being wrong, Daddy Dearest’s plank prank notwithstanding, it only makes sense (well my kind of sense) that when a movie called
Hitman is opening at the Essex Cinemas it can mean one of two things: 1) It is about a ruthless killer, or 2) It is an unauthorized biography about Simon Cowell, which means it could also be #1 to hear thousands of “American Idol” wannabes tell it with regard to the way Simon has shredded their pathetic hopes and dreams with his tongue the way Heather Mills has destroyed her own credibility every time she opens her own pie hole and utters the words “Paul McCartney…” Well, it doesn’t matter what that silly one-legged sow says, because when her lips move I just pray Dick Cheney will ask her to go hunting with him. Anyway, before I find myself digressing too far off the subject at hand, let me get back to Hitman.


So it isn’t about Simon Cowell. It’s closer to what my Pops would have looked at as a romantic comedy, about a man and his guns, and his love of placing bullets through the heads of complete
strangers for fun and profit. The Hitman of the title is a nameless fellow identified only by the number 47. 47 is played by the sweet-faced Timothy Olyphant, who most people remember as doe-eyed Seth Bullock from tv’s “Deadwood”. He obviously has gone to the dark side, as he was also the villain in this summer’s Live Free or Die Hard, so I’ve grown accustomed to him now being as cold-blooded as Rosie O’Donnell at a Trump Family picnic, though I’ll always remember him best as the hapless victim of the dreaded “butt weasels” in Stephen King’s fabu creature feature Dreamcatcher. Yes, I said “butt weasels.” Rent it if you want to know.

Anyway,
Hitman begins with 47 taking on the assignment to off a Russian politico. His instructions come via a sultry-voiced “boss” he hears only on his laptop computer. All of his transactions apparently happen this way. It’s very Mission Impossible III but on a quarter of the budget and without Tommie Girl in the starring role. So after 47 agrees to the kill, his boss tells him there has been a slight change of plans and the “client” has requested that Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen; Kingdom of Heaven) be eliminated in a very public environment. An annoyance, yes, but 47 agrees to the task. He was bred to be an assassin, and flashbacks show an artsy fartsy panorama of his early childhood in some strict whip-me, beat-me, make me write bad checks kind of academy where the kids are shaved bald and tattooed with bar codes on the back of their heads for identification. We see a few flashes of him being tortured for his own good, and are thus supposed to understand that he didn’t really choose to be a murderer but was brainwashed into it (I guess so we will find him a tad bit cuddly in spite of himself).

Okay, so poor old 47 does the deed in the middle of a crowded party rally and then discovers that he has been set up by the mysterious “client.” It’s revealed that the man 47 shot was actually a double (what a short-lived and crappy job that turned out to be for the lookalike, proving that temp work is the ultimate suckfest no matter where you live). So this could have just been a natural mistake and not 47’s error, but suddenly he is the target of snipers from his own organization and word in the press is that the assassin was spotted by a witness, Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko; The Snake), who he ends up having to kidnap for her own safety when it appears she is about to be assassinated herself. The question is, why? Or rather, the question is, why not? If we didn’t have this the plot development the storyline would be skimpier than Zac Efron’s testosterone levels.

Fortunately, all this confusion gives 47 the opportunity to meet up with a few vacationing tv stars in need of having their holidays comped, so he trades bullets and snide remarks with “Lost”s Henry Ian Cusick and “Desperate Housewives” ' Dougray Scott. Scottish Cusick plays the really unpleasant and accent-challenged Russian brother of the supposed dead party leader, who dreams of a white Christmas even in August by the looks of the nose candy he keeps around him. As Udre Belicoff, Cusick, usually a reliable actor, appears to think that if he overacts every scene nobody will notice his lousy Russian shtick. Scott, also a native of Scotland, does better as he doesn’t have to master a fake accent since he plays intrepid Interpol agent Mike Whittier, who has been tracking 47 across Europe and the U.S. for a couple of years with no success. Finally, he thinks he has a slam-dunk opportunity to nab the guy on his personal “Most Wanted” list and then complications arise, those complications being 47’s own craftiness and skill at alluding his stalker.

To be honest, Hitman is the kind of movie that will have you forgetting the beginning before it ends and by the time you get to your car it will basically be a run-together blur of explosions and stunt scenes more than actual story. The fight scenes are good, no doubt about that, with hotel suites exploding and cars turning into unexpected fireballs, and 47 (or at least his stuntman) does some pretty fantastic acrobatics that would do Neo and the gang from The Matrix proud, but when push comes to shove, which it does, the whole thing just seems like a long, drawn-out video game, which, not coincidentally is exactly what this Thanksgiving turkey is based upon.

1 comment:

jb_dean said...

I'm sorry but your comment on Henry Ian Cusick using "lousy Russian stick" would make me laugh if it wasn't so wrong. I don't know how many Russians you have as friends but I've had quite a few and his accent is spot on. Oh and don't take my word for it. TV2 (the main Russian TV station) had him do a commercial and commended him on both his Russian (which he learned in about 3 quick lessons before filming the commercial) and his Russian accent when speaking English. Mr. Cusik is very well versed in a wide variety of accents ... all of which he does perfectly.

Not all Russians sound like Boris from the Bullwinkle cartoons. LOL