Hitman: Unrated (Blu-ray) (2007)

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Released 28-May-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-In The Crosshairs
Featurette-Digital Hits
Featurette-Instruments Of Destruction
Featurette-Settling The Score
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Gag Reel
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-I, Robot
Web Links
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 94:14
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Xavier Gens
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Timothy Olyphant
Dougray Scott
Olga Kurylenko
Case ?
RPI ? Music Geoff Zanelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French dts 5.1
German dts 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
French Titling
German
German Titling
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

I am unaware of Hitman being released to theatres. It certainly did not get into theatres near where I presently am, although that is not saying a great deal given that I have to travel three hours in each direction from this location to get specialist attention that I should have been receiving more than twenty years ago. Be that as it may, all reliable information points to Hitman having bypassed theatres entirely and hitting home video, which is a shame because with out and out rubbish like Live Free Or Die Hard being released theatrically, Hitman is yet another rebuke to the common perception we have that just because a film gets a theatrical release means it will necessarily be better than material that does not make this grade.

Hitman is based on a videogame by Eidos, as the credits waste little time in informing us. The games and this film are based on the conceit that a group that is referred to in the film as The Organisation take children who have been discarded, orphaned, or otherwise placed in the position where nobody will miss them. From the time of adoption to the onset of adulthood, these wards are trained to be professional killers. Not just professional killers, mind you, but the best professional killers that money can buy. People who have played the Jagged Alliance videogames can think of the standards set by such characters as Gus, Ivan, or Mike, and go from there. I found the opening credit sequence at once both compelling and strangely derivative of the flashback sequences in episodes of Dark Angel. They let us know in no uncertain terms that this is not going to be a happy story, and that our hero is not going to be an easy person to relate to.

Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is just one of the many, many professional killers The Organisation has at its disposal. An Interpol agent by the name of Mike Whittier (Dougray Scott) has been tracking Agent 47 for quite some time, and apparently at a hefty cost. After one particularly nasty slaying in Africa, Agent 47 is asked to change his plans for a hit upon a Russian Presidential candidate. Agent 47's plan had been to execute the hit quietly, but his handlers inform him that the "client" wants the hit to be public. So nobody is more surprised to see news footage of this Presidential candidate, Mikhail Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen) making a speech with naught to show for his apparent brush with death but a patch bandage on his head and a lot of words about how his opponents fear him so much they will resort to this kind of violence to try and silence him. With his handlers refusing to talk to him further, Agent 47 flees his hotel room with the FSB in pursuit.

To describe the plot much further would really spoil the film, and I fear I may have already given too much away. It is one of the better videogame adaptations in circulation, but this is not really saying a lot. A lot of the time, there seems to be a great conflict between the mediocre-to-good action film that exists on the surface and the human drama subplot that is struggling to reach the surface. The ending and climactic battle betray the rest of the film by dissolving into a Rambo-esque bullet-flinging match while the film works best during scenes of interaction between the hero and the proverbial damsel in distress, a Russian slave girl by the name of Nika Boronina (Olga Kurylenko). Yeah, you heard me right. A videogame adaptation with an estimated budget of twenty-four million 2007 dollars has better character development (and action sequences, the climactic one notwithstanding) than a hundred-and-ten million dollar franchise sequel. It certainly makes one wonder who is in charge within the film industry.

What I think of the film aside, Hitman certainly makes a curious choice for release onto the format at this stage of the game.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Hitman is presented with a serviceable but somewhat variable transfer.

The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 within a 1920 by 1080 window. For a second at 00:08, I gasped audibly as a shimmer on the edge of the Fox logo suggested this was not a progressive transfer. However, this is the only such artefact that I noticed in a transfer of a film that would be lousy with them on DVD.

The sharpness of the transfer is somewhat variable. Backgrounds and things distant to the camera, especially in close shots, are noticeably fuzzy. Wide shots show more resolution in backgrounds, but also take on a hazy, grainy look that I suspect reflects the low budget of the production. Shadow detail is somewhat limited for a 2007 film, and there is no low-level noise.

The colours in this transfer are very muted and drab for most of the film. This seems to have been a deliberate artistic decision, one that is simply reflected in the transfer. Flesh tones appeared accurate. No bleeding or misregistration was noticed.

Compression artefacts were not noticed. Film-to-video artefacts, aside from the shimmer in the Fox logo mentioned earlier, were also not noticed. No film artefacts were noticed, either.

Subtitles are offered in English for the Hearing Impaired. They are presented in a sizeable, very readable font and are mostly accurate to the spoken dialogue.

Hitman is presented on a single-layer disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Four soundtracks are offered on this disc. The first, and default, is the original English dialogue in DTS Master Audio 5.1, which I listened to. An English Descriptive Audio soundtrack is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, with French and German dubs offered in DTS 5.1, presumably the kind we used to occasionally get on DVD.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time. Many of the characters speak with Russian accents and a word or two occasionally gets lost, but it is quite remarkable how easy it is to understand Timothy Olyphant in particular. There are plenty of films being made for five times the budget where the actors are not this easy to understand.

Audio sync occasionally seemed to drift. Occasionally some words seem to be dubbed differently to how they were spoken in production. Aside from this, I did not detect any errors in audio sync.

The music in the film consists of a score by Geoff Zanelli. Very sombre and foreboding (based a lot on Ave Maria, too), this score sets a good atmosphere for the first few reels of the film, but as the onscreen action gets sillier, the music seems to get less noticeable.

The surround channels are used to separate the sounds of traffic, gunfire, and other such directional sound from the fronts. During the scenes that take place on Russian urban streets in particular, the surrounds create a very you-are-there feel. During dialogue sequences, however, the sound field collapses into the fronts, especially when they are taking place in the hotel rooms. Split surround and directional effects were rare.

The subwoofer is used to supplement gunfire, explosions, and other such effects. It is not as well-integrated into the rest of the soundtrack as is usually the case with films of this vintage, but does its job well enough.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

As should be the case on this format, we have a well thought-out collection of extras that really supplement the film presented in HD.

Menu

In contrast to other Fox discs, we are favoured with a Top Menu as well as a Pop-Up Menu. Both sit on the fence between adequate and sluggish in terms of response time, and the language options can be somewhat confusing to navigate. On the plus side, the Top Menu is very nicely themed and keeps up the sombre mood of the good parts of the film.

Featurette - In The Crosshairs

Presented in 1.78:1 with footage from the film in approximately 2.35:1, and in a HD window with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this twenty-four minute featurette includes interviews with the producer, the director, actors, and others who worked on the production. A lot of it is talking up the film, but Timothy Olyphant shares a few interesting insights into his approach to the character. It is also interesting to see how different Olga Kurylenko looks without the makeup and poochy haircut. A lot of the crew beat the "respecting the videogame" line like a dead horse, however.

Featurette - Digital Hits

Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with footage from the videogames mostly in the same ratio and footage from the film in 2.35:1, this ten minute featurette is based around interviews with the makers of the Hitman videogames. They get a bit carried away with talking up about how innovative their approach was, but it does make clearer some differences between the film and the source material. For my part, at about four minutes into the featurette I began feeling the urge to scream "it was called BioForge, poseurs!", which I think is a natural reaction to people other than the makers of BioForge talking about how they invented the concept of the player's actions in the game determining the identity of the character.

Featurettes - Instruments Of Destruction

A submenu with featurettes titled Para-Ordnance P18.9, Blaser R93 LAS2, M16, FN F2000, Micro Uzi, and M240, or Play All, opens when this option is selected. Upon selecting Play All, an untitled 1.78:1 featurette including interviews with such vital crew members as the Weapons Coordinator begins before the aforementioned weapons are covered. Timothy Olyphant shares a few insights into what he learned from the Weapons Coordinator that are plenty amusing, the fact that crossing two pistols across your body makes no practical sense being my favourite. Total running time is fourteen minutes and twenty-six seconds.

Featurette - Settling The Score

Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with footage from the film in 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, this five minute and thirteen second featurette consists of composer Geoff Zanelli describing his approach to scoring the film. Sadly, it does not get into enough depth, and the methodology behind the theme we hear over the menu is never explored.

Deleted Scenes

When this option is selected, we get a submenu consisting of Play All, Ovie's Pool Scene, Hospital Scene, A Different Train Platform, Udre's Death, and Alternate Ending. Disappointingly, they are presented in SD and severely windowboxed on the screen. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also very quiet. Some, such as A Different Train Platform, present an alternate take on a scene that is worth looking at once. The video quality is very good for illustrating the HD difference, as some shots are so severely affected by aliasing it is only the windowboxing that makes them watchable. None of them really add anything to the film, and it is obvious from their beginning why they were deleted or reshot.

Gag Reel

A four minute, fifty-three second collection of flubs and blunders, presented severely windowboxed in SD.

Theatrical Trailer

A one minute and fifty second trailer in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in a HD window.

Trailer - I, Robot

A two minute and twenty-six second trailer in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in a HD window. Oddly enough, this trailer makes the fact that the only thing the film has in common with the Isaac Asimov story is the title. With the technophobia on display in every frame, I made a special note to myself not to watch this one, so it is a devastatingly honest trailer in spite of its makers.

Web Links

Still frame advertisements for Fox.co.uk and Foxinternational.com, neither of which really have any impact either way.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region A version of this disc is described on Amazon as having soundtracks in Russian and Serbo-Croatian, with subtitles in French and Spanish. If any of these language options make a difference to you, then you may disagree with my calling this one even pending confirmation of the special features included with the Region A disc.

Summary

When Hitman is showing its leads sitting down and having a conversation, it excels. Unfortunately, as the action sequences ramp up, the interest factor tends to decline primarily due to excess. It is as if someone in charge of the money looked at the first two thirds of the film and furiously demanded to know where the things blowing up were. That said, I liked it a great deal better than a lot of films that cost five times as much to shoot, and they might just one day make a sequel that lives up to the promise.

The video transfer is variable between average to good.

The audio transfer is good, but nothing special.

The extras are comprehensive, with only an audio commentary left to be desired.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSharp AQUOS BD-HP20X, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Definitely was in theatres... -
Come out of your cave more often mate! -
Ahh, it's the Dean of old - Simon O'Connor (I wouldn't suggest reading my bio)
DTS-MA Question -
RE: DTS-MA Question - PePe -