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April 31, 2008
Hitman - Unrated Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
6/12/200728/5/2008FoxXavier Gens
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Timothy Olyphant

THE MOVIE

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Timothy Olyphant (Die Hard 4.0) plays Agent 47.
Video game based movies are a very hit and miss affair. While there have been some brilliant, and critically successful franchises, making the port to the silver screen including Resident Evil and Tomb Raider there have been plenty of duds (no thanks to director hack Uwe Boll) including House of the Dead, Dungeon Seige and Blood Rayne. While Hitman may not quite have pulled the same box office totals as the most successful titles, it can still be considered a success.

47 is both the last two digits of the barcode tattooed on the nape of his neck, and his only name. The hunter becomes the hunted when 47 gets caught up in a political takeover. Both Interpol and the Russian military chase the Hitman across Eastern Europe as he tries to find out who set him up and why they're trying to take him out of the game. But the greatest threat to 47's survival may be the stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a beautiful, damaged girl...

With a budget rumoured to be around the $US25 million mark we are very pleased to report this is every bit the action movie one would expect to see being based on one of the movie violent video game franchises of all time. Indeed the movies worldwide take of just under $US100 million makes it a pretty profitable movie for Fox, and home video sales will only add to that title. As a movie director Xavier Gens (who is pretty much a newcomer besides some Second Unit Directing on Maximum Risk and Double Team) has done an admirable job of transferring the universe and feel of the games into this movie and credit should also be given to writer Skip Woods who also wrote Swordfish some years ago.

So how well does it adhere to the video games? Well pretty good actually. Many of the major sequences in the movie can be tracked back to various missions in the four games released to date. From a brilliant sniper-based opening, to an over-the-top gunfight with an arms dealer, to taking out a Russian SWAT team, this movie has it all. Small touches are included - yes, the strangulation wire makes an appearance! - while even some of the moves are taken from the games. Having said that there wasn't quite as much 'stealth' as we expected, and as you see in the games, and there wasn't as much 'costume changing' to blend in either, although the black suit, white shirt and red tie are very apparent. All-in-all gamers won't be disappointed by this effort.

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That's one powerful sniper rifle.
If you watch a lot of movies then you should know most of the actors in this movie. Agent 47 is played by Timothy Olyphant (who you would best know from Die Hard 4.0 and he has the mannerisms, and tone of a trained, and brutal assassin down perfectly. Supporting cast are equally important in any movie and Hitman sees actors such as Dougray Scott (Enigma, Mission Impossible II), Olga Kurylenko (James Bond 22 - soon), Robert Knepper (T-Bag in Prison Break), and Joe Sheridan (Dangerous Liasons).

There were some scenes however which I found were awkward. The scenes in the car between Agent 47 and Nika include dialogue about a vinyard, but it just seems so forced. Sure, Agent 47 is mean to be a hard-ass when it comes to interaction with the females, but it actually becomes a bit distracting in these scenes. Having said that there were some classic scenes too. There was quite a bit of laughter when Agent 47 stops Nika coming onto him rather abruptly when he has another job to get to. I won't spoil it, but it is quite possibly the best way to stop a woman lusting after you that I have ever seen! In another scene Agent 47 busts in on a room with two kids playing video games, and which game do you think it is?

Much comment is made about the similarities between Hitman and the Bourne trilogy of films. Yes they are similar, but they're not the same. Agent 47 isn't a womanising pretty-boy, he has a job to do - at any cost. The Hitman movie is also much more brutal then the Bourne movies and the motivations of each character are quite different. Would you say that Mission Impossible is the same as Get Smart as they're both spy type pictures? No. So don't try it here either.

Make no mistakes this is what can only be described as a 'popcorn' action flick. Yes, it is pretty violent but all who saw Hitman with me on Blu-Ray for this review (three guys, three girls) all enjoyed it immensely despite the fact that I was the only one who had played the games extensively. Certainly an entertaining action movie.

VIDEO
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Olga Kurylenko in one of her first movies.

Encoded in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec Hitman really does look impressive. Being such a recent movie it's not surprising to discover that the source was absolutely pristine with not a fleck or moment of dirt on the print. There were some moments where grain was evident, particularly in some of the darker scenes, but it is infrequent and for the most part the film has a polished sheen to it which really demonstrates the benefits of high-definition video presentation.

If you really want to see something special check out the opening assassination of the President between 12:25 and 13:33. The detail in the crowds, background buildings and even the zooming shot up to Agent 47 can't fail to impress.

AUDIO
Also impressive is the audio provided on this disc. The primary English track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and thanks to the recent PS3 firmware we can now hear the track in all its glory which means, for the most part, the audio bitrate hovers between 3.8 and 5.2Mbps (it varies depending on the scenes) which is considerbly higher then the 1.5Mbps 'core' track being extracted prior to the Firmware Update allowing the PS3 to decode the DTS-HD MA format. So was there a difference between the full bitrate and core tracks? Well yes there is. The audio seems a little more refined with slightly more clarity to the voices, and clearer effects with stronger bass evident.

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The barcode, but what does it mean?
As an overall presentation this is quite exceptional. As such as recent movie we expected Hitman to sound pretty good, but this exceeded expectations with aggressive use of surround sound channels, crystal clear dialogue even during the busier scenes, and plenty of action sequences to shake your room from end to end. If you want to test out your speakers, and demonstrate the audio quality presented on this disc head straight on over to the shootout in the club with arms dealer Udre Belicoff in Chapter 16 - play the whole chapter so you get a sense of the dialogue, atmosphere, and then shootout. Brilliant.

There are a couple of other tracks on this disc including English Descriptive Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 448kbps, as well as French and German DTS 5.1 tracks, both encoded at 768kbps and providing impressive experiences almost equal to that of the main Englsih DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Subtitles are provided in nine different languages including English for the Hearing Impaired, but no plain English track.

EXTRAS
Hitman comes to Blu-Ray with a few extras well worth checking out, although the lack of a commentary is disappointing. Given the tie-in to video games Fox could have gone all out, and perhaps even collaborated with IO Interactive to provide a video commentary with clips from the games with similar missions. Still there's a bit to look at here so let's get on with it.

In the Crosshairs (24:18/HD): This feature is the typical 'making of' featurette with plenty of interviews with cast and crew. Better then your average press kit this featurette actually looks at quite a bit of production detail including the cast, filming, and remaining faithful to the games. Presented in HD with 224kbps 2 Channel Dolby Digital Audio.

Hitman: Digital Hits (10:36/HD): A great little featurette that looks at the games upon which this movie is based. It's surprising that more game based movies don't include such a featurette which, while a bit too brief actually gives people unfamiliar with the games a look into them.

Instruments of Destruction (14:26/HD): With so many weapons used in the movie this featurette looks at the numerous guns used throughout the movie including test firing, and safety on set. Quite an interesting documentary.

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Someone is in trouble here, and its not Agent 47!
Setting the Scene (5:13/HD): A nice, but all-too-brief look at scoring the music in Hitman. We have to admit we really dug the score in the movie, so it was nice to see it feature as an extra.

Deleted Scenes (7:57/HD): A series of deleted/alternate/extended scenes which didn't make it into the final movie. THese include an alternate shootout at an outdoor train station rather then in the subway, and a quite different ending sequence. Sadly there is no optional audio commentary to detail why these were cut. We could probably point to the usual 'pacing' issues on most of them.

Gag Reel (4:53/HD): A series of fluffed lines, gags and mucking around on set. Some is amusing, but nothing really outstanding.

Hitman Trailer (1:50/HD): Quite an eye-catching trailer for the movie.

I, Robot Trailer (2:26/HD): A trailer for the hit Will Smith movie which is on Blu-Ray.

OVERALL
As readers of this site would be aware we are massive gamers here, but Hitman was a movie that we never saw in the cinemas which is a shame as it's pretty damn impressive. The great news though is that this Blu-Ray disc contains an unrated version of the movie, another brilliant transfer from Fox, and some decent extras. If you have a PS3, or another Blu-Ray player, then this is a disc well worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
8/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.