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I've had a bit of a man-crush on Timothy Olyphant since he played Todd the drug dealer, in Go. He was perfect in the role, utterly cool and confident. I've been following his career ever since. Unfortunately he's done a lot of crap films since then, though he's usually good in them. His highlights have been his turn as the porn producer in The Girl Next Door, as the terrorist in Live Free or Die Hard, but by far his best role was his three year run as Seth Bullock in the beautifully realized western show Deadwood. So, although I've never played the Hitman game, and it honestly didn't look like a very good film; I was somewhat excited to see Olyphant as the lead in a major Hollywood action film.

The professional assassin with a growing conscience has been an extremely popular character over the last decade, I think it started with The Professional, and maybe before that in La Femme Nikita. Every aspect of this character has been explored. I think that the makers of Hitman realized that, and went purely for the action end of the profession. The film is beautifully shot and the action scenes are very well put together, but without the emotional impact you don't feel a connection with the characters, so it remains just that, pretty action scenes.

The Professional, one of my all time favorite films, while having top notch action, remains with me because of the love that grows between Leon and Mathilda. They try do to explore that minimally in Hitman, with the connection between Agent 47 and Nika, the girl he's protecting. But Agent 47 remains a robot throughout the film; that even when Nika tries to seduce him, he responds by knocking her out. I liked that they try something different with him as a character, but it makes it tough to feel anything for him, when he doesn't feel anything for the people around him. I liked Nika's character, tough but vulnerable, she plays our connection to 47, and actress Olga Kurylenko is extremely easy on the eyes.

The story of Hitman didn't do a whole lot for me either, the Agency that employs him turning against him, forcing him to fight his former team, is really old hat. The Interpol agent on a mission to stop him, played with a permanent grimace by Dougray Scott, is also really played out. It soon became an unfunny joke that Interpol was having such a hard time finding this guy, who constantly walks around in plain site with a bald head tattooed with bar code, the guy kind of stands out wherever he goes, not once does he go in disguise or even put on a hat.

So while there were fairly good performances by the actors, and director Xavier Gens has a very good eye and a sense on how to build an action scene; I particularly liked the sword fight in the subway car. But without a story or characters to care about, the only reason to watch it soon became purely for the action. Nothing about the film seemed fresh. I think it's decent enough to satisfy the players of the game and hardcore action fans; but if you're looking for something original or truly satisfying, look elsewhere. - Grade: C+

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