Hitman, the video game franchise, seems practically built for Hollywood. Revolving around the stoic Agent 47, a bald guy with a barcode tattoo on his skull nobody seems to notice, is all about creatively bumping off jerks who really have operatic deaths coming to them in some of the world’s most glamorous locales. And yet, despite an attempt with Timothy Olyphant in 2007 and another go a few years back in 2015, it didn’t click with audiences. But hey, maybe the guy who created John Wick can make it work?
Derek Kolstad, who wrote John Wick (and will tackle the third adventure of the precise, melancholic killer) is also developing a Hitman series for Hulu. Kolstad’s understated writing and ability to create a just-so fantasy world of hitman hotels and elegant “rules” dictating fistfights in Rome’s streets should serve the video game well, considering its backstory is a mix of James Bond-esque homicidal glamor and goofy SF. He’s called “Agent 47” because he’s made from the DNA of history’s greatest killers, you see. Yeah, they don’t bring that part up all that much in the video games.
That said, Kolstad has a bit of work ahead of him. The whole appeal of the Hitman games is each level is a wicked little puzzle box where the prize is figuring out how to pull off the perfect murder, and that’s been hard to translate to the movies. They play out like murderous heists, where 47 gets in, kills the target (often in some hilariously elaborate way) and then splits with no one the wiser. If the show can capture that, it’ll succeed where the movies have struggled.