Ron Perlman, who’s always Hellboy really, stars in Hitman: Redemption as Asher, a (reasonably) violent assassin getting his orders from a local business guy but being beaten to the ‘good stuff’ by another trained killer that Perlman’s Asher trained and ‘taught him everything he knows’. Asher appears to live an easy enough life, drinking fine wines, killing people by setting off alarms (without anyone else running from their houses but the person he needs to kill) in Brooklyn and generally drifting (in an unusually nice way) through the cracks of existence.
Hitman: Redemption is an odd blend of assassin deadliness, mixed in with an underlying love story. Yes. You see, life changes for him during a routine hit after he literally falls into the arms of Famke Janssen’s Sophie, after suffering a funny turn and falling through her door. Strangely, she looks a bit like another woman, whom we meet earlier, that Asher can’t get a date so it seems apt that he likes her as well. They seem to spark but overall it’s an inexplicable balance of hopeful redemption and unusual death requests from people ‘above’.
So, from here, it’s all about Asher trying to get out of the life he’s led forever and Sophie happily going along with her mysterious new friend. Does he want to keep killing, or does he want love in his life? Hellboy must decide! I know one thing; he really needs a cat to make this work.
I felt like the selling point is someone wanting it to be John Wick and, let’s face it, this is no John Wick. What begins with all the essence of an intriguing, slick crime drama rather quickly descends into disappointing generic ‘by the numbers’ drama. Is it a hitman drama? Is it trying to be a romantic drama? You can sense a mild element of inspiration from the likes of Heat, or even Leon due to his personal demons and questions over what’s right and what’s wrong, but unfortunately it’s nowhere near either.
Saying this, there’s some natural chemistry between Famke and Perlman but a generic script is a very distracting thing. It’s clear he’s out on his own but scenes of him shooting empty glass bottles and testing a skill we know he’s got continually seems a bit unnecessary. Yes, he’s ageing and not as good as he used to be, but it’s over emphasised. I’m also unclear on why he keeps trying to take jobs, or put himself in ‘team’ situations, when it’s also suggested that he’s comfortable in his day-to-day existence with a penchant for fine wines and obvious affluence.
I feel like Hitman: Redemption could have benefited from a much better script, and more character building through the basics of atmosphere and situation. While Director Michael Caton-Jones offers us surprising early stages, in terms of how cleverly it sets itself up because you learn quickly about the character and how meticulous he is, those first scenes become the only real inventive moments because after that it replays similar scenarios, so we already know what’s happening.
While it does look great and it’s actually intelligently shot – plus Richard Dreyfuss turns up rocking an unusual accent I couldn’t quite place -it’s unfortunately all just a bit unexciting and disengaged.
Hitman: Redemption is out now on DVD.
Order here: https://amzn.to/2WIFZjE