Adapting an artform to a completely different medium has its ups and downs. It furthers the spread of the original material to new audiences. It allows for visuals for aspects previously only touched via the magic of letters and words, in case of literature to film adaptation, and it enhances the existing universe by adding auditory elements. It can fill in the blanks to show a different perspective, to shed light on other aspects of the story, in case of visual media to novel adaptation. Manipulating separate mediums is an art in of itself though and we haven’t had much luck when it comes to video game movies… That’s not an opinion. That is a fact.
Video games are still seen as a niche when it comes to entertainment. “Gamers” are prone to stereotypes but how many of the people you know still game in their grandparents’ basement wearing only their way-too-dirty of a t-shirt and boxers?… Except for me, of course. And yet, video game to movie adaptations are getting traction. Why? Money, probably. The industry and the market are changing, evolving. Video games now sell like hot cakes, and when you add the silly pre-order culture to it, I think you can get a clear picture as to why other businesses would be keen on getting at least a taste of the aforementioned hot cake.
This is why we have had such magnificent works of art as the Max Payne movie, multiple Mortal Kombat adaptations, the entire Resident Evil movie side universe and even a taste of the theatrical version of Super Mario Bros…. To add to that, there’s probably the most known line of video game adaptations, directed by the infamous Uwe Boll – a man who was told by Blizzard Entertainment that they will “not sell the movie rights, not to you…especially not to you.” when he expressed he’d like to work with their Warcraft IP.
Have we had some good ones? According to Wikipedia, the best scoring video game movie has a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That would be Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – a title often associated with the phrase “uncanny valley”. Other than that, the Tomb Raider movies apparently weren’t that bad and some swear that Silent Hill’s adaptation is the best one we’ve gotten… as a Silent Hill fan, I might get to that one eventually… Today we will be looking at something entirely different. That’s also because I usually discuss video games. As a Hitman lore expert however, it would be a deep shame (that’s a lie if I ever saw one) to never get around to movie adaptations of my favorite franchise of all time… I already told you what I think of the novels and I wrote that extensive character analysis of Mr. 47, so what else is left for me to do? The next logical step would be to cover the Hitman Christmas Flash Game or Hitman Vegas if I ever manage to get my hands on that one again… For now though, let’s fuel the memes. Or rather, give actual context to the already existing “White’s reaction to the first movie” card in our Discord’s custom Cards Against Humanity deck.
Hitman was released in November 2007, after what we now call the “old school” set of titles were already out. Interestingly enough, the rights to adapt the franchise were negotiated starting February 2003, so even before Contracts hit the shelves. It was also to star Vin Diesel. The actor was also meant to be an executive producer of the title. The latter ended up a reality but the main role was given to Timothy Olyphant instead, with Olga Kurylenko, Dougray Scott, and Robert Knepper casted as supporting characters. The movie was given to a French director Xavier Gens and it was to be written by Skip Woods of Swordfish… fame… and Live Free or Die Hard which was apparently pretty good. The shooting began early 2007. It wasn’t without problems as the movie had to be pushed back due to several scenes needing reshooting. The script was changed to alter the main character’s origins (we’re off to good start, Hitman lore fanatics!). It also means I’m probably going to have a field day as I start disassembling this piece of art, especially given how the source material was disregarded even on the smallest of details. “47’s” eyes in the movie adaptation are brown simply because the director thought Timothy Olyphant looked odd in blue contact lenses. There are also rumors that Jesper Kyd’s music was to be featured in the movie before it was replaced by an original score by Geoff Zanelli.
But let’s not prolong this. Join me (or not, your choice, really) as I hit “Play” and share my thoughts on the 2007 adaptation of Hitman. If you want a more in-depth experience of White’s reaction to the first movie, I posted an audio recording of the entire thing on my Patreon, so be sure to check that out if you’re curious!
The film starts off with a pretty obvious reference to the franchise. Since the very beginning, we get to hear Schubert’s Ave Maria, cause it would not be Hitman if that wasn’t the case. At least we can scratch it off our bingo card early. Accompanying our magnificent song, we are shown a mysterious place in which children are actively being trained for combat purposes. DISCIPLINE is written in bold letters on a projector screen as rows and rows of small human beings with barcodes on their necks are brainwashed into stone-heart killers.
“Barcodes on their necks?”, you ask wondering if White’s Mind has already been damaged by the mere few seconds of the 2007 Hitman. The iconic placement for the barcode has always been the back of 47’s head, so what’s with the neck? Digging into the credits sequence of the film, we can also notice a small print informing us about footage reused from a different FOX-owned production. This was apparently to lower the costs after the previously mentioned reshoots.
Following this intro sequence, which ends up being completely meaningless over the course of the story as it explains nothing, we are then brought to a tiny neighborhood in London, England. A detective is coming back home in a stormy night after a long day of work only to find that his family isn’t there. Instead, another man welcomes him in his household. A bald guy dressed in a fancy suit, white shirt and a blood-red tie. He’s also holding a gun. And there’s a dead fellow right there on the floor. I’d argue that the milk and cookie was probably a way better welcoming gift.
The men apparently know each other. The detective seems startled but the bald guy comforts him, saying that his family is still alive. Just asleep. Of course we believe him and do not act as if being “asleep” isn’t simply a metaphor for being dead… Especially as the detective knows well who this bald man is. He’s been hunting him. Calling him a ghost. And here he is. A ghost right in front of his very face.
…I’m making this more interesting that it actually is, so let’s move on.
Mr. Ghost mentions he’s been stalking the detective for a significant portion of time, yet he still has not decided to kill him, so it’s probably not going to end up happening now, either. Instead, he simply wants to talk. He wants to know when does a good man chooses to end another person’s life and thus begins the proper story.
Three months ago, a bomb accident preplanned by our Ghost Fella has triggered Interpol, and subsequently our detective, to start following him throughout the world. The voice over gives us some world building exposition. Apparently, the mystery place from the intro sequence was a part of a training program by an establishment known only as The Organization. “So secret no-one knows it exists.” The inspector, going by the name Mike, paints an even clearer picture… somewhat. “No motive, no forensic evidence, no witnesses”, he says as he swivels on his armchair. We are also introduced to another Interpol agent – Jenkins – who manages to find holes in theories spewed by the Nigerian general. You know, there’s always this one character which seems self-aware about being a part of a terrible story and Jenkins might just be our guy this time around. Especially hearing dialogues like these:
It is our belief that Bwana Ovie
was killed by his own brother.
Oh, so he choked down
a pound of C-4… and knocked on Ovie’s door?
We then get a generic “he’s the best of the best” line from Mike himself and a nice shot of a world map with red pins representing Mr. Ghost’s kills. Not all of them, mind you. Just the ones the Interpol knows about.
The Hitman franchise is all about traveling the world, so we then move to St. Petersburg in Russia. A reference to Silent Assassin, perhaps, as our main character is tasked to perform a sniper kill on a Russian politician. But not before we see him in a hotel room, enjoying his ice cold whiskey. A random bystander jokes about killing him for what he’s doing with the beverage and he seems quite distressed before realizing she wasn’t actually serious. The woman is definitely interested in our protagonist yet he isn’t. Instead, we get a nice overview on some more preplanning that will end up being important as time goes on, so pay attention to the very blue ice machine! Ghost Fella then enters his own hotel room (No. 501 – a huge missed opportunity for a Contracts reference!) and we get more direct shots of important plot items.
What follows is a shower scene. I personally really enjoy shower scenes in visual media. Not because of the nudity (in fact there’s nothing to focus your eyes on here) but because they always manage to capture the purity and vulnerability of the character. 2007 Hitman does the same thing by incorporating flashbacks yet contrasts it with showing us a gun right next to the shower itself. We then get a glimpse of what’s happening in the background of the hired killer profession as Ghost Man contacts his agency… Organization… whatever. A robotic female voice (Diana, apparently, given the name tag), informs him that the payment is being completed as our main character is looking at a… “Man’s Guide to Women” article…
He can also be seen smiling a bit, either at the piece itself or the fact that Diana has just praised him for a job well done. Apparently, the next assignment is just getting more difficult as the client wishes the kill to be public. This triggers another reaction in Mr. Ghost. “I’ve planned something more… subtle”, he says. This one line might be to excuse the upcoming violence and high action scenes in a supposed Hitman movie but that may be giving it too much credit. Still, he accomplishes the task of eliminating Mikhail Belicoff and it’s all she wrote.
It’s never that easy, however. If it was, the film would be over in fifteen minutes and maybe that would have been for the better. Instead, we have an hour and fifteen more minutes to go. Our protagonist is also of an impression that it’s all done and well as we see him willing to depart St. Petersburg and be off to a new destination. Diana stops him. “We have a problem. There was a witness in St. Petersburg.” I’d argue there were many more witnesses, not just Nika Boronina. The kill was to be public, after all…
Said witness ends up being one of Belicoff’s prostitutes (spoiler alert?). Logically, our Ghost Fella is asked to get rid of her. A job he doesn’t complete as Nika simply looks at him and that stops him from accomplishing his goal… what? Then, another hitman appears. An inferior one, perhaps as he misses his target whilst the target is literally standing still. The main character escapes leaving the assassin clearly unhappy.
Remember Mike and Jenkins exist? Now you do cause they are up to something! Analyzing the record of the Belicoff kill reveals some interesting details such as way too much artificial blood used in the scene… no, that’s actually their conclusion, not my sarcastic comment! Mike also gets a tip that the ghost he’s been looking for has been spotted and someone even took a picture of him!
Where the hell did they get a picture?
MAN ON THE PHONE:
I don’t know, sir.
I’m clueless, too…
Back in the hotel, our protagonist argues with Diana over if Nika is or isn’t a witness because that is totally something a hired killer would do. This, paired with the fact that The Organization has also caught on something being off about the Belicoff kill means Ghost Fella will not be getting his money. As you’d imagine, he’s quite upset about the situation, especially as it seems his agency has completely doublecrossed him. This is almost an Absolution-level of a plot setup!
A new challenger appears! Chief Agent Yuri Marklov of FSB has some business with Mr. Ghost as well but gives no reasons as to why. Mike seems to be distraught about it as well, further revealing obvious holes in this script. The Russians decide to storm the hotel and in the meantime, Diana calls our protagonist directly. Apparently, the client was Belicoff himself. She also mentions the police being around the corner which means maybe she didn’t doublecrossed him after all!… only that she was following The Organization’s orders or… is this Absolution?
Following is a long hotel escape action scene featuring the most Hitman thing in this movie… an actual Hitman video game. Interestingly enough, played in French. Given that our hired killer is supposed to leave no forensic evidence and no witnesses and overall be a ghost, he leaves the building completely destroyed, on fire and with a pile of death bodies inside of an elevator. All of the previously shown preplanning ends up coming into play though, giving us an insight of how much of a mastermind our Ghost Man actually is!
Thankfully, that fulfills the quota for at least one person with enough hindsight in this entire plot as one of the Interpol agents has none of it and permanently destroys Ghost Fella’s laptop. Mike and Yuri have a bit of an argument about whether or not the killer is a freelance or connected to the CIA, Mike accuses the FSB of manipulating the photographs and that’s pretty much all this scene involves. The entire Interpol versus FSB conflict seems completely pointless in the end anyways and honestly, it feels like padding. It seems as if it was to balance the action scenes yet there’s so little content involved in them that you might as well just skip them. But then, if you’d also to skip action scenes, there would be nothing left of the hour and a half film, so the choice is yours.
Mr. Ghost goes on to find Nika Boronina in her own apartment. A good place to start looking, I’d say. He influences her to open the door by hiding behind a bouquet of red roses. He then forces her to enter the trunk of his car and takes her to his secret hideout place… that he owns apparently in this entirely foreign country… to interrogate her. Excuse me, he’s taking her “Somewhere safe”. That’s not something I’d believe if a man literally grabbed me by the neck and threw me into his car.
Nika doesn’t know much of importance, or the plot would be too competent for the lowest common denominator demographic to understand so instead, we are given a simple “Mikhail has a body double.” And if you can’t picture that, she also explains “Just as Saddam Hussein” as if that was to help. She also mentions Belicoff having a brother – Udre – who sounds like a man I’d not go to a coffee shop with.
He runs slave girls, drugs, weapons. Both the C.I.A. and F.S.B. want him dead.
Our protagonist asks her why she’s tattooed her face, giving us a connection between the two… sort of… and both an emotional and a bonding moment so the audience has at least one character to root for in this story. Ghost Fella ends up taking Nika with him, wanting to protect her from Belicoff (for some reason…) as he still wishes to complete his original contract.
Exiting St. Petersburg won’t be as easy as getting in as both the Interpol and The Organization apparently wants our main character dead. Another high action scene follows, featuring pointlessly leaving a man alive just to finish the job later and a sword fight between four random barcoded men. A disguise becomes a prominent component reminding us that we are watching a Hitman movie.
Mike gets told by other people. He also tells Yuri to fuck off filling the “fuck” quota of the film. Again, this aftermath seems completely unnecessary but it’s there so I’m going to comment on its lack of existential reason. Back to Ghost Fella and Nika, we have a second quick bonding moment between the two as Nika’s backstory is getting revealed a bit more. That goes with the actress herself just that in her case, her entire body ends up being revealed for us in a topless female nudity scene – genuinely the second of the most popular keywords on the IMDb page of this movie. The “no witnesses” ghost our protagonist is, he makes a huge scene in front of an entire crowd of people but the bonding moment does its job and he even forces a joke and a smile out of Nika at the end of it. We are also explicitly told that he doesn’t want to have sex with her so if you were in the cinema just for that, you might get up your seat and leave in this very moment.
It appears Mr. Ghost isn’t the only character knowing the art of preplanning as Mike does the same! The audience is informed with a very obvious sort-of-a-flashback-but-not-really that our detective has placed a bug on Yuri the last time they’ve met and him and Jenkins can now listen in to Yuri’s conversation with a higher up! But they are quickly interrupted and that’s another Mike scene wasted…
In the meantime, Nika meets up with a new character which doesn’t get properly introduced and we don’t exactly know where he comes from and why he is there. Ghost Fella is observing them via a sniper rifle scope cause that’s apparently more common than binoculars. At least we get a pretty clear Blood Money promo art reference reminding us that this is a Hitman movie. “After all these years, I’d think you’d trust me a little more than this”, the man starts off his phone conversation with the main character. That is the only line establishing some form of a previous connection between the two, so I hope you enjoyed it!
The man is apparently a part of the Central Intelligence Unit but also has some insight to the whole Belicoff situation and the fact that The Organization has doublecrossed “the best of the best” because it obviously made sense to do that. Since the CIA wants Udre Belicoff gone, our guy decides to do the dirty work. In return, he only wants a “small favor”. That’s obviously not the case but a part of a bigger preplanning operation so let’s roll with it as we travel to Istanbul!
Nika wakes up almost completely naked to try and force our Ghost Fella to pay attention to her. He isn’t interested though, instead browsing the files of a German weapon dealer whom Udre is doing business with. “We’re going to dinner”, he exclaims suddenly and follows it with a “We need to buy you a new dress.”
“You know, you’re really quite charming when you aren’t killing people.”
Istanbul serves as a bonding place for our main character and a… Bond girl… as they walk down the streets and make accidentally silly faces. They then head to Gelato Tower to do some more preplanning! Apparently Mr. Price is going to be there, as Mr. Ghost already knew from the briefing so I have no idea why he felt the need to doublecheck it other than to maybe make a reference to Traditions of the Trade or to point out how stupid it is for “the best of the best” to leave a witness unattended for a prolonged period of time.
How did you know I wouldn’t just take off?
I didn’t. Come on. We have dinner reservations at 8.
We change places for a second for another almost pointless Mike scene. The Interpol now knows that Belicoff has a body double. And we’re back to Istanbul! Great use of two minutes, there!
Our beloved couple has another bonding moment, as they are having dinner at Gelato Tower. Their conversation mostly involves exchanging random observations, mild sexual jokes and leaves me craving the soup of the day (red lentil and mint with sautéed onions and diced tomatoes). This nice environment soon changes as Mr. Ghost suddenly stands up and asks Nika to get the check. In the meantime, he enters the bathrooms, uses his preplanned asset to eliminate both Price and his bodyguard (a right man on the right job as he doesn’t even see it coming whilst facing a mirror). Nika’s “What the fuck?” pretty much covers it all. She still manages to grab a wine bottle from the table and apparently drinks all of it before they head back.
Well, that was lovely. Right up to the time you dragged me out by my hair.
Another attempt at seducing our protagonist fails thanks to a syringe filled with some sort of a sedative which affects the victim in less than a second. At least that’s game-accurate.
Having Nika out of the picture for a bit, Ghost Fella meets up with Udre Belicoff under a guise of Mr. Price. For some reason, I fail to believe Udre either did not get the memo that the real Mr. Price is dead, no-one has found Price and his bodyguard up to this moment or even that Udre has no idea of how Mr. Price looks like. Disregard any logic, as we have another high action scene, this time involving hookers, cheap weaponry and dollar bills. Our protagonist ends up killing Udre in a way-too-risky of a method for the “no forensic evidence” type of a hired gun.
Fade out, fade in back to the room where we last left Nika. Mr. Ghost thinks about it once he sees her naked but covers her up instead. His facial expression gives out a truly distressed feeling as if he’s a teenager watching a porno for the very first time. Honestly, this also might be because of how young Timothy Olyphant looks in this movie…
The next morning, the duo have even more bonding moments cause we have to pick up the pace with those. Nika fixes Ghost Fella’s tie before they head off to a great adventure. During the car ride, she begins reading aloud the same article previously read by our main character in St. Petersburg. We get to learn such plot-important details as that “when the male penguin meets the female penguin he knows in the first 10 seconds whether he’s gonna like her or not”. Terrible sex jokes later, Nika mentions she always wanted to have a vineyard when she was a little girl and that is actually a plot-important detail you should remember out of that entire scene.
Did you know that there is a substory to this movie? I certainly didn’t but here it is. Mike has been digging through the retrieved briefcase of our protagonist and has found a small bag containing a cross-shaped key. “I never thought our boy is a religious type.”, he mutters maybe referencing Silent Assassin to remind us we are watching a Hitman movie. “That’s strange.” Indeed. That’s also the end of the Mike scene.
Ready for our last bonding moment? I told you we needed to pick up the pace. Ghost Fella interrupts Nika’s nap to inform her it’s the last time they ever going to see each other. Just… it’s not as dramatic as I’m making it out to be cause the script obviously tries but fails at delivering this level of drama.
Nika. I have to go.
So much for happy endings. I don’t want you to do this.
Belicoff needs to die.
I don’t care about that.
As long as he’s alive, they will never stop looking for you.
At the next station, get off the train as soon as it stops. Move with the crowd.
But I don’t even know your name.
The place I was raised, they didn’t give us names.
They gave us numbers.
Mine was 47.
Finally! I was waiting for it all this time! If you were wondering why I am not calling this character “47” for this entire time, it was because, disregarding the few seconds the number appears during the calls with The Age– Organization, it is never mentioned up to this moment! Nika has the nerve to answer “Well, that explains a lot” even though it actually doesn’t and they split up.
When was the last time we’ve seen Yuri? I personally don’t even remember anymore but here he is again and, it appears, he has been working with Mikhail Belicoff all along and the man is furious. And drunk. Next is Mike and few quick establishing moments of “the FSB wants the Interpol to drop the investigation”, “Udre’s been found dead” and a convenient TV report about Mikhail Belicoff attending his brother’s funeral which triggers Mike to add two and two together and realize Mr. Ghost… or “47” has been using his preplanning abilities once again.
If revealing the number of “47” reminded you that we’re watching a Hitman movie, this might be the only time to appreciate the source material as this nighttime scene is actually quite suspenseful and features multiple Hitman references – the fibre wire and the coin distraction (not a pistol distraction, this was way too early for that one). A shame though that the room Yuri ends up in is more akin to SAW than any of the Hitman video games. Unless maybe you count Sturrock’s brother’s playground from Meat King’s Party. A rubber ducky also makes its appearance in the tub accompanying Yuri’s bath. Apparently “47” now wants him dead… for some reason… and he’s using a complicated machinery to do it for him.
In the meantime, the authorities are preparing a setup themselves. Mike is worried about the civilian casualties but that is to be avoided with a gas-based sedative. The grand star arrives. We’re ready for the climax. Yuri is forced to direct his own hitman to shoot Belicoff instead but the glass pane stops their plans. TARGET LOCKDOWN.
Mr. Ghost or “47”, I guess, uses the newfound distraction to obtain a masked disguise and massacre even more people. This means a clear cut way to his original target. Mike also makes a connection between the cross-shaped key and the church they are in, by the way. It feels like he understands a lot more than I do cause he comes to a conclusion that our protagonist has set all of this up from the very beginning. How? I literally do not know. Apparently, Ghost Fella knew from the start that Belicoff has a body double, that The Organization is going to doublecross him, that the FSB is working with Belicoff to cover everything up and has even been carrying this random cross-shaped key knowing well that Interpol is going to get a hold of his suitcase and find it. What a mastermind.
After a high action scene, “47” forces Belicoff into a room and they have a little talk. The Russian wants to negotiate with the killer but he’s not interested and shoots him right in his pretty face instead. His plans are not over yet however as he purposely sets himself up to be found by Interpol and then have the previously seen but not properly introduced up until now character get him out. It appears that the guy we’ve only seen in one scene is actually agent Smith of the CIA. I know, I wouldn’t guess either based on his appearance. And I’m the Hitman lore expert! Thus, in this very convoluted way, “47” flees into the unknown having completed his original contract and leaving Mike with nothing once again.
Except for milk and cookies, cause we are back to the suburban neighborhood in London.
So now what?
Now you have to answer my question.
Are you a good man, Inspector?
And yet you’ve killed men.
So, Inspector… how does a good man decide when to kill?
Mike ends up muttering a few words which don’t make any sense what-so-ever, so the entire plot set up and therefore, the entirety of the movie was completely meaningless. It is then clear that the preplanning went even further, up to this very moment. Mr. Ghost has not only found Mike’s family house but is also giving him what he always wanted – himself. Killed by Mike. Sort of. Cause it’s not him but a different barcoded man. And he wasn’t shot by Mike but his weapon. But you get the gist. He also says his last goodbye to Nika. By setting her up with her very own vineyard. The end.
So there we go. The 2007 Hitman movie. To be fair, there’s not much to discuss as it’s barely even a Hitman movie. The number “47” has been mentioned once throughout the course of the story. Diana is a robotic voice who only has few lines in the entire script and The Agency is pretty much none existent. There are few references here and there but it’s definitely not enough for it to be Hitman especially given how high action and loud the film ends up being. Even as a movie, it’s lackluster and pretty boring. As I’ve mentioned before, the Interpol vs. FSB subplot is forgettable to say the least, the dialogue can be illogical or outright stupid and the characters have little to no motivation. It’s a typical Hollywood action flick so I guess we shouldn’t expect much. I simply do not know who is the target audience for this movie. It’s definitely not Hitman fans and it’s not generic action movie fans as the film ends up being mediocre at even that with it’s obvious horrible looking CGI and excess of fake blood. Maybe it tried to grab viewers attention by plastering the lens with Olga Kurylenko’s naked body but even that need (if you personally have it) can be easily circumvented by browsing the internet.
What is worth mentioning is that the original script was much different from what we’ve received. Even the ending scene was changed. Nika was supposed to get killed right in front of “47’s” eyes. But I guess that would make it pretty grim and the lowest common denominator prefers happy ending. What a shame. Can you believe they wanted to make a sequel to this movie? It never ended up happening cause they canceled it and rebooted it in 2015.
…Wait. They did what?…
Yes. Hitman was successful as a movie after all and even though plans for a sequel were ruined, that did not stop Fox from taking another bite of the license. And since they did it, I guess I also have to…
Join me here next month for another batch of “White’s reactions to the Hitman movies” as we tackle the 2015 Hitman: Agent 47.
A big thank you to LadyFromEast for suffering with me through this movie and a huge thanks to all of my Patreons for the continued support!
Remember to check out the bonus’ bonuses, too! Including the audio recording of White, LadyFromEast and Toffi reacting to the first movie!