Tag Archives: Hitman

Gaming with Nate: Hitman Absolution for PlayStation 3

Right off the bat I consider all the games in the Hitman franchise to be fantastic in different ways but if I had to pick a favourite it would definitely be 2012’s Hitman: Absolution, a gorgeously produced, star studded update on 2006’s Blood Money that draws us further into Agent 47’s shadowy world by adding new graphics, well drawn supporting characters and paying far more attention to storytelling as well as the trademark intricately structured missions. Some people felt (weirdly) that the in depth nature of story and larger than life villains here took away from the overall aesthetic, like made the vibe less atmospheric or something but for my money it just breathes so much life into the mythology and spurs on the evolution of these games from quiet, guarded and strictly atmosphere-based to verbose, witty and full of personality in every corner of the frame. The game opens as 47 finally tracks down and eliminates his former handler, that treacherous bitch Diana (Marsha Thomason), which he does and listens to her last dying wish as she begs him to protect a mysterious girl who holds the keys to his own past. This puts him on a dangerous ditch effort and collision course with his former agency, other clandestine factions and countless freelance killers for hire including and unbelievable army of sexy nuns with enough firepower to blow up a bridge. The big bad here is scumbag billionaire industrialist Blake Dexter, voiced by Keith Carradine in the kind of peacocking, purple-prose drenched, scenery chewing performance that demands the slow clap and has you hating him when you’re not laughing hysterically at his impossibly arch dialogue. He’s after the girl 47 is harbouring and he ain’t the only one. Powers Boothe (who really took advantage of video game work over the course of his epic career) is Benjamin Travis, an agency kingpin with a prosthetic arm, a nasty temper and the iron will of a megalomaniac. He’s assisted in his unholy quest by slinky head operative Jade, voiced by the underrated Shannon Sossamon. The cast is wonderfully dense and eclectic, with appearances from Vivica A. Fox, Adrienne Barbeau, Traci Lords, Jon Gries, Isabelle Fuhrman and the great Steven Bauer lending his leathery pipes to the role of Birdie, a terrifically untrustworthy underworld operative. The gameplay and graphics are flat-out fucking gorgeous, immersive and layered, perfectly speckled with lens flares where appropriate and crisp, tactile and detailed environments that feel lived in and carefully rendered. The actors here would usually find themselves sitting in their PJ’s in a cozy recording booth but here they’ve gone the extra mile and had them do actual motion capture work so that the performances feel authentic, fluid and dynamic. This for me is the pinnacle of the Hitman legacy so far, and hasn’t been topped since. Oh and as for the movies, they’re both so terrible and miss the mark of what makes this story so wonderful in the first place, Absolution is ten times more cinematic that both films combined.

-Nate Hill

Xavier Gen’s Hitman 


How to put this: if none of the classic video games featuring Agent 47 were ever made, and Xavier Gen’s Hitman was a standalone film, it wouldn’t be a half bad little B-movie type actioner, with a few gnarly set pieces and a level of acceptable energy kept up throughout. As a film version of these beloved games, however, it just just crashes and burns. Here’s why: the games were very specific, stealthy and designed to be atmospheric, slow burning tactical missions carefully built upon each other like a precarious house of cards, each mission more complex, difficult and risky than the last. The film? A standard Hollywood-ized action narrative that blatantly ignores every structural piece and character quality of the games. When will they learn? What’s more is, the film would have been unique, something memorable, had they followed the blueprint which the games pioneered, but they always just insist on cheapening the formula with boring old movie tropes instead of revering an already charted course which made the source material popular enough to get a film version green-lit in the first place. Ironic. Anywho, this ones your standard globetrotting cheeseball outing, with a bald Timothy Olyphant doing his best yet coming nowhere close to being a solid 47, stuck in a mucky plot involving corrupt Eastern Europeans, double crossing fellow agents and pursued by a hyped up Dougray Scott as some Interpol bigwig and Robert Knepper as a shady Russian (dat accent tho) secret police dude. 47 is betrayed by his own organization and tossed to the dogs, forced to go rogue and, in the film’s most grave plotting misstep, saddled with babysitting duty to a Slavic damsel in distress (Olga Kurylenko). They seriously just gotta hurl a Bond babe into every flick that remotely resembles a 007 venture, don’t they, which is a major offence when you look at what a ruthlessly mythic, near inhuman creature 47 is in the games, and what a manipulatable chump he becomes when pinned under the yoke of this painfully silly script. The 46 I know would just as soon as bury a bullet in this chick’s head as let her tag along and become a liability, let alone start to develop (cringe) human emotions. Such are the dollar signs in the eyes of studio execs though, and any hope of a faithful adaptation suffers as a result. The few sequences that work, including a hotel escape and a subway car Mano á mano between 47 and his genetically altered fellow killers, just don’t feel remotely inspired by, or in the spirit of the video games. The film has a few muted notes of originality, but any action piece that feels the need to pilfer John Powell’s Bourne Identity score instead of hiring a composer to whip up something fresh just can’t be taken seriously. Big ol’ meh from me, think I’ll rent out a PS2 from the pawn shop and settle in with Hitman: Blood Money again, because this shit doesn’t cut it. 

-Nate Hill