Thursday, 21 April 2016


It's pretty much an accepted fact that movies based on computer games suck.
Which is really annoying, especially when the game is considered a classic.
Because all anonymous hitmen have unique, easily recognisable weapons.
I'm going to give some full disclosure here, I never played the games. I tried to, but let's just say that I didn't get along with it.
In that I repeatedly got killed by the chef.
Anywho, other people loved the game series so much that Hollywood decided to make a film based on it.
The movie starts with a man getting a barcode tattooed onto the back of his head.
That guy must have an incredibly steady hand.
It's a flashback showing a bunch of kids being raised by some shadowy organisation as professional killers.
The lack of dialogue makes this opening rather effective, especially when combined with the eery soundtrack. The blue lighting invokes feelings of sterility, underscoring just how wrong the whole thing is.
Cut to many years later in London, England.
That can't be a shot of London, it doesn't feature a single landmark.
A car pulls up to a house and a man climbs out. Once inside, he's confronted by a different man, this one bald and armed.
This guy.
This is our main character, Agent 47. The other guy is an Interpol agent named Mike Whittier who's been chasing 47 all over the globe.
That guy.
These two are essentially the main characters for the movie, which takes place entirely within a flashback. Not a flashback that leads to this moment then continues afterwards, but simply leads to this moment. So we know throughout the entire film that these two cannot die. Or be captured. Which kind of ruins the whole thing really.
Anyway, they talk, ignoring the dead assassin on the floor and we enter the flashback.
And we never leave it.
Agent 47 talks about the Organisation, who is a shady company that nobody knows about with ties to every government.
In other words, it's every conspiracy theorists wet dream.
In a country somewhere in Africa (Doesn't matter which) a guy is dragged before a militia leader, who plans to torture him for information. The exact details aren't important.
You have to hand it to him though, he's good at disarming his foes.
Despite the torture the guy doesn't speak and it's revealed that his voicebox has been removed and sewn shut. And replaced with a bomb.
That's a spicy meatball!
The scene shifts to Whittier and his partner arguing with local law enforcement about jurisdiction and whether or not 47 even exists since Whittier has no evidence (And everyone refers to 47 simply as 'Your guy').
Yeah, because those guys look trustworthy.
What happens in this scene doesn't actually matter, since it doesn't give us any new information about the characters or the situation. Technically it does introduce us to Whittier's sidekick, but is doesn't say anything about him which isn't repeated the very next time we see him.
Which makes the entire excursion to Africa utterly pointless.
Take your trophy movie, you've earned it.
We then move to St. Petersburg in Russia, presumably because the Africans stopped listening to Whittier. 47 is in a hotel bar drinking when a woman hits on him.
I was going to joke about how unlikely it is for a women to be hitting on a man, but he is played by Timothy Oliphaunt.
The woman makes it incredibly clear what it is she wants, but 47 panics and flees, making this scene the only one where he accurately portrays how most Hitman players act in real life.
(Ha! Take that nerds!)
(Ow, I hurt myself.)
On his way back to his room 47 checks the ice cooler in the corridor and scatters tiny glass beads around in front of his door. 
Which also has a bomb attached to it.
After a shower 47 logs onto his laptop and talks to a robotic voice, which informs him that his next job has changed slightly. It's been moved forward and has been switched from 'Accident' to 'High-profile assassination'.
47 is unhappy about the changes, but still accepts the job.
This is his unhappy face.
He gets the information on the target, who's the Russian Prime Minister. His more liberal, non-anti-West outlook upsets the client.
And that's all the backstory needed, since 47 pulls it off without a hitch.
Via the most cliche FPS trope that exists.
I have some quibbles about how it happens though. 47 shoots the bodyguard in order to get a clear shot at Belicoff (The PM), but it's a full 8 seconds before Belicoff suffers the same fate. I know that 8 seconds is not a lot of time, but I've seen footage of failed assassination attempts (Or what was believed to be failed assassination attempts). Secret Service type people react very quickly to such things as someone's head exploding. Here, everyone just kinda looks around, bemused.
"Hey, did Sergei's head just explode out of nowhere? Is that normal?"
"I don't know. I've never met Sergei outside of work. Maybe it's just a hobby of his?"
It's pretty daft.
Later on 47 is trying to leave via the trains when he gets a text telling him to call the office.
So he sets up his laptop and speaks to the robot voice, which tells him that there was a witness and that he needs to kill her too.
And he has this conversation in public, not even bothering with earphones or anything.
The computer transmits the data about the witness to 47 and he agrees to do the job. Once he gets there however, he notices something off and doesn't complete the mission.
There are no jokes I can make about her tattoo that wouldn't be taken as a reference to a certain other movie.
What 47 notices (And explains later) is that she didn't react to seeing him. Despite the fact that he was staring at her in the most inconspicuous way possible.
"Yes, that is a gun in my pocket. Why would I be pleased to see you?"
This tipped him off to the fact that she didn't recognise him. The sudden head explosion of the guy standing next to him tipped him off to the fact that it was a set-up.
Russian headaches are the worst.
47 spots the agent on a nearby roof and runs.
Well, he casually strolls off while the other agent fires ineffectively into the crowd.
Anywho, we cut to Whittier and his partner landing in Russia. Whittier's arguing with someone on the phone about his investigation, which reveals that Belicoff survived the shooting with a mild graze.
His partner interrupts him with footage from the shooting (Which in true movie fashion didn't come from any feasible angles), which shows a lot of arterial spray, tipping Whittier off that Belicoff did indeed die.
Yeah, the movie has quite a big political subplot behind it.
Whittier's train of thought gets derailed when he receives a phone call saying that the Russian police have found Agent 47.
Back in the hotel 47 is talking with the computer voice, who shows him some live news of Belicoff.
He's alive! Aliiiive!!!
Outside the hotel Whittier arrives and meets with the police chief, who's introduced to us with a strange wide-angle shot that does not do the actor any favours.
It's from Whittier's perspective, so maybe he just dropped all of the LSD?
The police chief gives Whittier the bad news that the Russian secret police are going in with a task force.
Whittier isn't happy about this and meets Agent Markhov, who's from the Russian secret police and he's claiming jurisdiction over Interpol. Also, he's a smarmy git.
Not the smarmiest of gits, but still rather smarmy and quite gittish.
Despite Whittier's protests Markhov sends the police in
But back upstairs, 47 receives a phone call from Diana (The computer voice) who tips him off that he's been betrayed.
There's no explanation as to why the organisation would betray their best agent, nor as to why Diana would choose to warn him.
Okay, yeah, I'm just going to explain the plot now because it's way more complicated than it needs to be.
Also, Spoiler warning.
Belicoff was considered too liberal, so someone paid the organisation to kill him. But it was actually Belicoff's body double who was the client. He wanted the assassination to be public so that he could pretend to actually be Belicoff, thus taking over the Russian government immediately. There were only two people who could expose this plan, Belicoff's girlfriend (Who knew about the body double) and the agent who killed Belicoff (47). So the double wanted them both killed off too.
It's later revealed that Belicoff abused his girlfriend quit atrociously, so she's glad he's dead. And 47 wouldn't care either way so long as he gets paid for the job.
So the entire motivation of the movie's villains in both stupid and unnecessary, since neither of the people who could expose it even want to.
At least, until people start trying to kill them.
I hate when movies have stupid plots.
Speaking of stupid, the cops rush into 47's room and trigger the bomb on the other side of the door, just as he dives out of the window.
And that's why you shouldn't have the 'Extra-spicy' sauce when in Moscow.
47 grabs some rope he had previously tied to the balcony and uses it to swing into the room below his. And inside the room is the laziest fourth wall joke ever.
The kids are playing Hitman.
So does the Organisation have a computer games department?
A big fight scene ensues, most of which is stuff we've seen before, although there are a few notable exceptions. Remember that I mentioned 47 checking the ice cooler? Turns out that he stored his guns in there.
Which seems rather daft to me. What if someone cleaned it out? Or another guest decided that they wanted the ice at the very bottom?
There's also a fun scene involving an elevator.
These guys have clearly never seen an action movie before.
Whittier spots 47 in a corridor and orders him to freeze, but a cleaning lady (Who must be deaf to have heard neither the explosion nor the gunshots) gets in the way, giving 47 a chance a escape through a window into the river.
Which begs the question of why he didn't just do this to begin with.
Whittier and his partner go to 47's room, but one of the crime scene guys touches buttons on 47's laptop, which activates a program deleting everything.
"Good work, CSI Deedee."
After a quick cutaway wherein 47 picks up a clean outfit, Whittier discovers his suitcase of spy gadgets. He pockets a bug as Markhov enters and they have a private word, which basically amounts to them telling each other to p*** off.
Elsewhere, 47 decides to meet with the dragon tat girl and get some answers.
He's not very good when it comes to talking to pretty women.
He tells her to go with him and she does, mostly due to the gun. He takes her to a car and makes her climb into the boot, which is a little iffy since there's also a corpse in there.
In fact, most places he goes tend to include corpses. I hope he never gets into interior decorating.
He takes her to a motel where he asks some questions, most of which I've already explained. 
During this he asks about her tattooed face, which she says was the only place Belicoff wouldn't hit. 47 asks about Belicoff's brother, a gun smuggler named Udre. He explains to the girl (Named Nika) that her driver was going to kill her.
Elsewhere Whittier is discussing the situation with the police chief, who explains that every possible way out of Russia has been sealed off. Whittier works out that 47 will use St. Petersburg station to go further into Russia, then escape later on.
There's also this running thing where Whittier sticks a cigarette into his mouth, but never actually gets around to lighting it.
Whittier is of course correct as we see in the next scene. Whittier spots a bald man with a barcode tattoo and he orders Jenkins (His partner) to follow. What's shown to us (But not Whittier) is that it's not 47, but another agent who's been sent after 47. 47 tricks the other agent and catches him off guard, beating him up with ease.
This may look like a fight but it's actually their equivalent to a secret handshake.
47 pins the other agent to the ground but spots yet another agent hiding behind a corner. He tells the first one to stay put whilst he investigates.
He readily agrees.
47 follows the second agent until they get to an abandoned train car, where two more show up and they all have a Mexican standoff.
At least it's an exceptionally well-dressed Mexican standoff.
Presumably the only agent to get paid is the one that kills 47, since all three of the others point their guns at each other. 47 decides that they should fight and die with dignity, which they all agree to, putting their guns down and drawing blades instead.
"One for all and all for whoever kills the others."
The fight scene that follows is genuinely amazing. Words can't really do it justice, you have to see it. Suffice to say that 47 wins and hides the bodies in a crate before returning to the first agent, who's still there.
He'd just made himself comfy as well.
47 is annoyed when he spots Nika hiding nearby, since he told her to wait elsewhere. He gets more annoyed when Jenkins attacks him, though this goes roughly how you'd expect.
This is what happens if you don't know the secret handshake.
47 gets Jenkins into a headlock but Whittier arrives and points out that Jenkins doesn't know what he looks like, so there's no reason to kill him.
So 47 shoots Whittier instead.
That's not normally what people do with hostages.
47 knocks out Jenkins and gets ready to finish off Whittier, but stops when Nika asks him to.
Fortunately it's revealed that Whittier was wearing a bulletproof vest, which makes this one of the few movies to portray them accurately. Sure, they may be bulletproof, but getting shot in the gut still takes the wind out of you.
As he and Jenkins are getting patched up Markhov shows up and once again tells them to p*** off, to which Whittier replies the same.
At some point he might hold onto a cigarette long enough to smoke it.
Elsewhere 47 and Nika sit in the car and have breakfast, as well as a deep conversation. It's quite a nice scene, even if it does start with him letting her out of the boot.
He got rid of the body and bought her a sandwich, what more could a girl ask for?
Nika explains her past, which involves some really good acting and some very disturbing images, which I'm not going to show. Suffice to say that Belicoff was not as nice as his public persona would have anyone believe (So the same as most politicians).
For the first time in his life 47 empathises with someone else and they make small talk, including Nika's dreams.
Elsewhere Markhov talks to his superiors on what he believes is a secure line, but unbeknownst to him Jenkins got the bug working and Whittier placed it on his jacket collar before crumbling the cigarette in his face. It reveals to them that Markhov is indeed working on some sort of plan that requires 47 and Nika dead, but they get interrupted just as they find out exactly who his boss is (Fake Belicoff).
Elsewhere Nika meets with someone and hands him a phone, through which 47 tells him that he's calling in a favour.
I like scenes like this, since it adds to the rewatch value.
The guy above gives 47 some information about Udre Belicoff, who 47 plans to eliminate.
2 days later in Istanbul 47 works out his plan to get to Udre, which involves killing another guy and pretending to be him. Which he does.
He had a plan, he executed it, details not important.
When he gets back to the hotel Nika is both angry and drunk, which thanks to her incredibly messed up past she attempts to relieve by sleeping with 47, but he panics and knocks her unconscious.
That night 47 visits Udre pretending to be Mr. Price, the arms dealer he murdered. It goes well until one of Udre's men whispers to Udre that he isn't Price, so 47 murders everybody except the abused women.
The real crime was that guy's outfit.
This fight scene, sadly, is rather dull and generic, with the small army of bad guys forgetting how to aim and failing to hit 47 even once.
This scene might be a little more tense if I could forget that we're in the middle of a flashback.
After killing Udre 47 and Nika drive back into Russia. They talk a bit as they're driving and have a surprisingly charming moment involving a ballgag.
Back in England Whittier is still going through 47's luggage when he comes across a large brass key in the shape of a cross. This is important for later.
I guess you could call it a 'Key Item'.
Back in Russia 47 drops Nika off somewhere and leaves, saying that he's going to stop anybody from coming after her. It's rather a sad moment.
It gets interrupted with plot stuff as Markhov meets with fake Belicoff. The conversation starts in Russian but switches to English. 
Because reasons.
Reasons that I'm sure actually exist.
Basic gist of the scene is that fake Belicoff is angry that 47 isn't dead.
"Allow me to explain to you just how evil we are, in case the audience forgot."
Back in England Whittier works out 47's plan (Kill Belicoff at Udre's funeral, because subtlety.) and, after arguing with his boss, leaves for Russia.
Which is where 47 kidnaps Markhov and they have a little chat.
"Welcome to my home, make yourself comfortable, would you like some tea?"
47 has tied Markhov to the bathtub using barbed wire and has duct-taped a radio to his free hand.
Duct tape really does fix everything.
He explains that at 2:30 the radio will turn on. He will then have 30 seconds to order his men to kill Belicoff or his skin will be melted off by a very large amount of electricity.
And then 47 walks away.
At the funeral Belicoff stands behind bullet resistant glass giving a speech. Until the timer next to Markhov runs out and he orders his man to kill Belicoff. While the bullets do shatter the glass, Belicoff flees.
And Markhov is left completely unharmed, since 47 had no intention of killing him anyway.
It's actually left ambiguous, but it doesn't matter either way.
As Belicoff runs the Russian military release knockout gas to prevent the civilians from hurting each other in panic.
One of the heavily armoured military guys removes his mask and helmet, revealing himself to be 47 using the original game's signature tactic, and he begins mowing down Belicoff's guards as he chases him towards the top room of the cathedral.
Remember that key? It had this symbol on it.
When 47 locks himself in the top room he gets attacked by yet another agent, this one disguised as a priest.
Guess who wins.
Belicoff and 47 talk for a bit, with Belicoff trying to barter for his life. So 47 shoots him in the head.
Normally in movies the hero lets the bad guy talk too much and if often bites them in the rear later, so it's refreshing to see someone who's willing to just shoot the baddie when it's clear he's not going to stop being a baddie.
Of course, someone looking through the keyhole noticed what happened and reports it, which causes the nearby gun-laden helicopter to open fire into the room.
This would be tense if we didn't already know the outcome.
After the chopper runs out of bullets and flies away, Whittier arrives and arrests 47, who puts up no resistance whatsoever. As they drive away though, they suddenly get stopped by a sudden roadblock.
Remember this guy? Turns out he's CIA and he's here to repay 47 that favour.
As the CIA agent (Named Smith, or so he says) talks he and his men suddenly notice that the car's empty and leave.
I love this moment, it was clearly set up earlier and everybody present's smart enough to see through it, but they're powerless to stop it from happening.
And so the flashback finally ends and we go back to where we started, with 47 and Whittier having a nice chat at gun point.
I hope you didn't forget that this entire movie was a flashback. I sure didn't.
47 asks Whittier if he's a good man and if so, how does he know when to kill? Whittier responds with a pretty solid argument.
"If I think that a man intends to do me or my family any harm, I will do anything in my power to stop him. Beyond that? It's a crap shoot."
I officially like this character.
47 lowers his gun and seems to accept the answer. As he leaves he tells Whittier that the corpse on the floor can be his assassin. All the evidence is in place and he even has a plausible story as to why it took Whittier so long to report it.
Skip back to somewhere in Russia, where Nika is leaving a building to find a package that's been sent to her.
It's the deed to a vineyard, which she had mentioned to 47 was her dream. As she walks away we watch her through the scope of a sniper rifle.
Luckily, that sniper rifle is being held by 47, who killed the agent sent to kill Nika.
And so, everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one and the credits roll.
Except this poor guy. He doesn't get a happy ending. Just an ending.
This movie was actually pretty darn good. The acting was excellent in places, the plot mostly made sense. The political intrigue was enough to keep us guessing but not too much as to contradict itself. And the action scenes were genuinely badass.
But there are flaws.
The organisation made no sense. They sent their best agent to kill Belicoff then decided to willingly sacrifice him. They could have used any random mercenary as their patsy and 47 would never have had to defect. There's also no reason given as to why Diana betrayed the organisation to save 47.
And the biggest flaw was that the whole movie was done in flashback, meaning that we weren't really worried about the two major characters, since we knew that they would both make it out alive and well. The only people we were genuinely concerned with were Jenkins and Nika. And that one random slave girl that Udre pointed a gun at.
Of course, some of these problems stem from it being a computer game movie. The game's designers wouldn't want any mystery behind Diana or the organisation to be revealed outside of the game series. So I guess it gets a pass for those things.

As an aside, I must apologise for how long it took to post this review. I'm trying to get back into the rhythym of things, but it's more of a strain than I thought. Check back next Thursday and hopefully I'll have a new review up.

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