Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) has been educated to become a professional assassin for hire, whose most powerful weapons are his nerve and a resolute pride in his work. 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.
Based on the top-selling, award-winning videogame franchise, the HITMAN is a genetically-engineered, elite assassin known only as Agent 47. His hallmarks are a lethal grace, unwavering precision, and resolute pride in his work. But even 47 couldn’t anticipate a “random equation” in his life of exactitude: the unexpected stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a mysterious Russian woman.
Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood; Live Free or Die Hard) stars in the title role, a mysterious and complex man of profound contradictions: He was bred from the world’s deadliest criminals, but raised by an exiled brotherhood of the Church.
His very existence seems to be a sin, but he wages a quiet war to rid the world of evil. He’s brilliant, charismatic and charming — yet reveals little about himself, has no name, and is known only by the last two digits of a barcode tattooed on the back of his head.
Also starring are Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II; “Desperate Housewives”), Olga Kurylenko (Paris je t’aime), Robert Knepper (Prison Break), Ulrich Thomsen (Festen), Henry Ian Cusick (“Lost”) and Michael Offei (Casino Royale).
HITMAN is the second feature from director Xavier Gens (Frontier(s)), who imbues the film with a look reminiscent of a graphic novel rich with religious iconography. Gens’ approach to the material is, like its protagonist, stylized and cool. The producers are Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Charles Gordon and Adrian Askarieh.
The screenplay was written by Skip Woods (Swordfish). HITMAN’s behind-the-scenes team includes Frontier(s) cinematographer Laurent Barès and Oscar¬nominated production designer Jacques Bufnoir (Indochine). HITMAN was filmed during 12 weeks on location in Sofia and at Boyana Film Studios in Bulgaria, with a second unit shooting in South Africa, Istanbul, St. Petersburg and London.
HITMAN began its journey from game console to big screen when producers Charles Gordon and Adrian Askarieh, along with co-producer Daniel Alter, brought the property to Twentieth Century Fox. EuropaCorp, whose partners include filmmaker Luc Besson (whose directing credits include the classic action films “The Professional” and “La Femme Nikita”) and producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, later joined the project.
At the time, EuropaCorp was in post-production on Frontier(s), from young French director Xavier Gens. Besson and Le Pogam were so impressed by Gens’ debut feature that they suggested that Fox executives take a look at some scenes from the film. “At the end of the screening,” recalls Le Pogam, “the Fox executives said, `Done! Deal! He’s the director.’”
In addition to Gens’ work on Frontier(s), which had its North American premiere at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, the producers and the studio were impressed by Gens’ extensive experience in many other production capacities — from runner to first assistant director — on several large-scale action films. Moreover, Gens has a genuine and contagious enthusiasm for films and filmmaking.
“Xavier is totally passionate about movies,” says Le Pogam. “He is in love with all of the tangible elements of filmmaking and with getting the best from actors. He’s interested in the journey of a character from start to finish. Like other very talented people, he also has a gift for attracting a team of equally creative people in every department to work with him.”
Timothy Olyphant credits Gens with his decision to take the title role in HITMAN. “Xavier is a real cinephile,” says the actor. “Sitting down and talking to him about his ideas and what kind of movie he thought this could be was the closer for me. He got me very excited about the project.”
In addition to his passion for films, Gens is an avid gamer, and he was thrilled to be asked to direct a film based on one of his favorite games: HITMAN, from Eidos Interactive. As a gaming enthusiast, Gens wanted to remain faithful to the game’s unique style and spirit. As a filmmaker, he was determined to avoid the pitfalls of the videogame-to-film adaptations. “We wanted the motion picture HITMAN to tell an original and exciting story,” says Gens, “and not just turn the game into a movie. Our goal was to make something `real’ out of an imaginary universe while respecting all of the iconic aspects of the game, which has a lot of devoted fans.”
To that end, Gens and screenwriter Skip Woods retained much of the game’s mythology and imagery, including 47′s elaborate weaponry, sartorial choices, and trademark fleur-de-lis. “Skip wrote a great script from the source material,” says Le Pogam. “It’s a totally different approach but he kept all the beauty and the basic elements of the videogame and its main character: black suit, white shirt, red tie, bald, and barcode. The psychological ambiguity and the mystery of the Hitman are still there — where he comes from, what kind of education he received to develop his impressive skills.
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Michael Offei
Directed by: Xavier Gens
Screenplay by: Skip Woods
Release Date: November 21st, 2007
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, language, and some sexuality / nudity.
Box Office: $39,687,694 (US total)
Studio: 20th Century Fox