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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Hitman: Unrated'
(Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / (2007) 2008 / 20th Century Fox)

Overview: The best-selling videogame, HITMAN, roars to life with both barrels blazing in this hardcore action-thriller starring Timothy Olyphant (Live Free or Die Hard). A genetically engineered assassin with killer style and deadly aim, known only as "Agent 47", eliminates strategic targets for a top-secret organization. But when he's double-crossed on a mission, the hunter becomes the prey as 47 finds himself ensnared in a life-or-death game of international intrigue and violent retribution.

DVD Verdict: The oddest thing about "Hitman" is that it's enjoyable even though most of it doesn't work. There are moments of highly implausible action and completely inappropriate dialogue, both going to such extremes that watching the actors try to make something out of them is fascinating. At a certain point, I began to think that this film could still be effective without any sound accompanying the picture. It works much better as a visual spectacle, anyway; the artistry of the camerawork and the carefully choreographed shootout sequences completely overshadows anything the characters say, and this alone should tell you that there's absolutely nothing to get out of the story. For the life of me, I don't know why I'm recommending this movie, and I doubt that analyzing it will point to an explanation.

The plot--what little of it there is--is surprisingly routine: a bald, tattooed assassin known only as Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is hired to kill Russian president Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), only to discover that he's been betrayed. Now the target of British and Russian Secret Police, Agent 47 treks across Europe on a quest for answers. With him is Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko), a Russian prostitute who was forced into this political conspiracy. For something adapted from a video game, this doesn't sound like an especially exciting plot. If anything, it sounds unflatteringly derivative.

It doesn't help that pretty much nothing is adequately developed, especially when it comes to Agent 47. He does summarize his roots, stating that he was brought up by a secret agency known for breeding and training the world's best assassins. But that's about all we know; even flashback shots of teenagers having barcodes tattooed on the backs of their shaved heads doesn't tell us anything.

One gets the sense that this barcode completely defines Agent 47, as if to remind him that his sole purpose is to kill, kill, kill. Or maybe his agency considers him nothing more than a product, and if his head doesn't scan properly at checkout, then he'll have to be replaced with someone better. Since no actual scanning happens in "Hitman," I can't say for sure. I would have liked to see someone walk up to Agent 47 with a portable scanner--that would have been funny, funnier than any of the unintentionally funny moments this film had to offer.

Most of these involve Agent 47 and Nika, whose conversations are so badly written that they border on campy. Nika herself is a bit of an anomaly, since she lacks the emotional gray area between Uncontrollably Weepy and Boldly Seductive. Her sexual advances are flatly rejected; his murdering skills are top notch, but his romantic skills are another story altogether.

This makes Agent 47 the biggest anomaly of all. His voice is soft yet demanding, as if he idolized Clint Eastwood and wanted to become him. But stranger than that is the way Agent 47 looks--his bald, tattooed head and impeccable taste in fashion make him oddly conspicuous for an assassin. Isn't he supposed to be a ghost, someone who can get the job done and disappear without leaving a behind trace? He's apparently not good enough to escape the watchful eye of Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott), an agent for a sect of the British Secret Police called Interpol.

Agent 47 also attracts the attention of Yuri Marklov (Robert Knepper), who works for a Russian agency called the FSB (I have no idea what that stands for). As both men get closer to Agent 47, they find themselves foiled time and time again with yet another daring escape, which inevitably involves a series of cool daredevil stunts.

I'm making this movie seem ridiculous because it is ridiculous. But as I said earlier, the story is not what drives "Hitman." It's all about the way it looks, about how clever the camera angles can be made and how far over the top the stunts can go! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features:

Disc 1:
Widescreen Feature
In the Crosshairs Featurette
Digital Hits Featurette
Instruments of Destruction Featurette
Para-Ordnance P18.9 Featurette
Blaser R93 LRS2 Featurette
M16 Featurette
FN F2000 Featurette
Micro Uzi Featurette
M240 Featurette
Settling the Score Featurette
Deleted Scenes - Ovie's Pool Scene, Hospital Scene, A Different Train Platform, Udre's Death
Alternate Ending
Gag Reel

Disc 2:
Digital Copy
Portable Digital Copy of Hitman