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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 18, 2012

Hitman Movie Review: Well Staged Gunfights Do Not Compensate For The Holes In The Script

DIRECTED, co-written and co-produced by Cesar Montano who also plays the title role, “Hitman” attempts to revive the interest of local audiences in action films, which used to be the favourite film genre of most viewers during the heydays of local movies. Pegged on the usual revenge premise, it opens with a gunfight in a busy street while Cesar as Ben is chasing Phillip Salvador as Tom. From there, the story is told in flashback.

Ben used to be a hitman working for Mando (Ricky Davao), a crime lord whose most trusted henchman is his own brother, Tom. When Ben expressed his desire to retire, Mando ordered Tom to kill him. His pregnant wife died but Ben gets into coma for seven years. Now that he’s been revived, he wants to take revenge on both Mando and Tom.

Tom now also wants to retire and is asking Mando to give him the P10 million Mando has promised him so he can start a new life. Mando refuses, leading to much resentment on Tom’s part. Mando has three children: Joko Diaz, Mark Herras, and Sam Pinto as Gina, a model who has dissociated herself from her shady family. Ben and Gina meet by chance and end up in bed. Meantime, Joko confronts Tom and his uncle ends up killing him.

The movie then becomes a series of killings. Tom also kills Mando, but there’s a twist in this to be revealed later. It turns out Gina is keeping a huge stash of money entrusted to her by her dad and Tom is after it. Tom manages to get Gina from Ben and they later have a showdown in the place where Gina hid the money. Then there’s another twist about the character played by Mark Herras, who turns out to be just an adopted child of Ricky Davao. He’s portrayed as someone meek and quiet, but it turns out he’s a schemer with his own hidden agenda.

The film’s main drawback is the script that is just full of holes. You’d really wish it’s more coherent and engaging, but the director is just more concerned with scenes that add up the adrenaline and testosterone level, like he’s possessed by Luc Besson. Gina professes aversion to her dad’s nefarious activities, but how come she would agree to keep a huge sum of money from him that she very well knew comes from his criminal acts?

When Gina called Tom to ask him to rescue her from Ben, Tom asked: “Nasaan ka?” She answered: “Nasa Fairview.” Fairview is so big, but lo and behold, Tom was able to track her down right away when there were no details given as to her exact whereabouts. Not only that, Ben was able to go to the location where the money was hidden and got it ahead of Tom and Gina. How the hell did he know its whereabouts?

As the movie ends, Cesar as writer-director no longer seems serious about the whole thing. He suddenly turns comically campy and treats the movie more as a joke. He refers to Phillip as “matanda” and even calls him “lolo”. He later quips: “Nakakatakbo pa itong matandang to, e masakit na tuhod nito. May rayuma.” After all the gunfights, he then tells Sam Pinto: “Yun na ang cue.” Sam asks: “Anong cue?” He says: “Hindi ka ba nanonood ng action films? Pag dumating dun, kiss na yun.” Sam kisses him and he quips: “Galingan mo naman. Ending na nga, e.”

So what will you make of that? If he doesn’t take his own movie seriously, why should we? Honestly, we don’t think “Hitman” is the movie that will help revive local moviegoers’ interest in action flicks. Although there are some well staged gunfights and hand-to-hand fight scenes with good camera work, you have the feeling that you’ve seen it all before in other action movies. Even the love scenes of Cesar and Sam are not much to crow about. In fairness to Sam, she tries her best to be convincing, even in delivering such trite lines as “Napakasama mo! Wala kang puso!”

Phillip wisely gives an understated and pretty effective performance as Tom, while Ricky Davao pulls all stops to portray the abusive and irate crime boss. There’s much hype about Mark Herras’ performance here as the seeming softie who turns out to be evil, but aside from the climax where he’s given one long aria, you can’t really feel his character that much since he has minimal exposure in the movie.