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Movie Review

  1. Mister 47. Agent 47.

The numbers 4 and 7 are the last two digits on the bar code that is tattooed on the back of the man's bald head. And they make up the only name the reclusive loner knows.

Many years before, as an unwanted orphan boy, he was thrown, with other young castoffs, into an intensive training program led by a mysterious agency. The youths learned hand-to-hand combat, weaponry skills, languages, logistical planning—everything they would need to become killing machines. And so, the boy who became a man has become a silent assassin. The perfect Hitman.

Mr. 47 becomes one of many agents scattered around the world, coldly killing anyone, anywhere, when given the order. But after finishing a hit on Russian President Mikhail Belicoff, 47 realizes that he's been purposely set up as the fall guy in a political takeover. He's the only one who knows the truth, and he's suddenly gone from hunter to hunted as Interpol, the Russian military and his fellow assassins chase him across Eastern Europe. He must use all his skills to find out who is behind the double-cross.

In the process, he stumbles upon Belicoff's former mistress, Nika, who can offer some vital inside information. But the beautiful, damaged girl also stirs unfamiliar emotions in the killer. And emotion could be the most dangerous threat he faces.

Sound like a video game? It should. Read on.

Positive Elements

Agent 47 sees something in Nika that motivates him to stand up as her protector, even at the possible risk of his life and his mission.

Spiritual Content

Men dressed in the religious robes of monks appear to have been a part of 47's programming as a child. The movie opens with the song "Ave Maria." A man's funeral and the movie's closing gun battle take place in a large Catholic church adorned with crosses and other religious imagery. The Interpol investigator, Mike Whittier, finds a key in the shape of a cross in 47's abandoned suitcase. The key carries the inscription, "Trust unto God and He shall direct your path."

Sexual Content

Nika gets out of bed wearing nothing but a very brief pair of panties, and the camera eyes her closely (from every angle) as she walks across the room and stands by a window. She also gets drunk and tries to seduce 47 by straddling him on the bed, unbuckling his pants and dropping the top of her dress to expose her breasts. (All of this is accompanied by sexual talk.) The hired gun later finds her naked and asleep in bed. In other scenes, Nika wears very slinky, wispy-fabric outfits that readily reveal her lack of undergarments.

Several young women lounge around in skimpy outfits that expose parts of their breasts in an arms dealer's apartment. Agent 47 is seen showering through fogged glass.

Violent Content

Hitman's violence-filled visuals don't quite match the in-your-face, retch-inducing gory levels of, say, the Saw or Kill Bill movies. But the carnage of this pic is still quite disturbing, largely because of the stylish, polished way in which it's presented. Gun barrels blaze and explosions rend in slow motion while chunks of gore splatter far and wide. Agent 47's steely-eyed intensity and leaping athleticism makes each kill feel uncomfortably like a work of art or a sports event worthy of the highlight reel. And it's all accompanied by an appealing, stirring soundtrack.

Graphic bloodletting scenes include: a close-up sniper shot to a man's forehead that throws blood and brain matter on nearby observers; explosives being forcefully crammed into a man's throat, which then detonate to disintegrate a handful of men in a blood-spattered torture room; and armed troops storming a church (which leaves the walls smeared with blood). A sword battle results in garishly snapped bones and vivid punctures. And a helicopter gunship decimates a room with high-caliber ammo, riddling a man's corpse in the process.

Nika is seen being whipped. (Her back is bare.) A man is seen sitting chained inside a full bathtub—and he's connected to an electrical generator.

Crude or Profane Language

A dozen or more f-words are interjected in English; two in Russian. The s-word clocks in at just under a half-dozen. There are a few uses of "h---" and "b--tard." Jesus' name is abused twice. And there's one vulgar reference to a male body part. Nika makes an obscene gesture.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Children are injected with some kind of drug during their training. Mr. 47 injects a debilitating drug into two people's necks. He drinks whiskey on a few occasions. Nika and others are seen drinking alcohol in a bar and in a restaurant. In one scene, Nika gets drunk, and she grabs a bottle as she leaves. One man has his drink drugged and becomes ill.

A meeting with an arms dealer takes place in a room which is littered with bottles of alcohol and drug paraphernalia. Interpol's Whittier drinks vodka and puts an unlit cigarette in his mouth from time to time. Several other characters, including a Russian FSB agent, smoke cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements


Since Hitman is based on a best-selling video game series, fanboys will flock to the theater to see if the movie's genetically enhanced murderer is just as cool, undaunted and cold-bloodedly calculating as he is in the game. And if that's all they're seeking, then they'll probably feel that they've gotten their money's worth. As sad as that may be.

Compared to the game—and that's a very low bar indeed—the movie leaves out most of what makes this twisted story even moderately interesting. This 47 doesn't wrestle with his humanity nor reach for spiritual answers. He doesn't even proclaim himself to be targeting "the evil that plagues the world" like his pixilated counterpart. The assassin does show a touch of compassion for the abused Nika, but for the most part his persona has been boiled down to an extremely skilled, good-looking, well-dressed murderer who blasts his way through a shut-off-your-brain-and-hold-on-to-your-seat actioner.

It's a movie with less detail than a game, if that's possible. And it's encapsulated by a closing shot: After 100 minutes of bloodletting, the camera gazes up into 47's expressionless face. He emotes no anger, no pity, no guilt. He's dressed in a black suit and red tie. He rests a high-powered sniper rifle on his shoulder. And behind him we see a clear, blue sky. The scene screams hero. This onscreen conqueror seems to be romantically clean. Almost ... pure.

And it's this idolization and elevation of a brutal killer that is Hitman's ugliest dividend—even more so than its thickly spread sexuality, nudity and obscenity. For some reason America keeps lapping up entertainment featuring antiheroes who do whatever it takes to reach their goals, then face no consequence for their inhumane actions.

It's a disquieting trend. Hollywood screenwriters, actors and directors may not think they're lionizing killers. (Why would they want to?) But that's essentially what they're doing. And all too often we end up reaping what they sow.

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Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

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Episode Reviews



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Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47; Dougray Scott as Mike Whittier; Olga Kurylenko as Nika; Robert Knepper as Yuri Marklov; Ulrich Thomsen as Mikhail Belicoff


Xavier Gens ( )


20th Century Fox



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In Theaters

On Video

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Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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