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Review: Hit Man (2024)

Hit Man (2024)

Directed by: Richard Linklater

Premise: A mild-mannered college professor (Glen Powell) works part time with the police department posing as a hitman to entrap suspects. He begins a relationship with one of his suspects (Adria Arjona) under his hit man alter ego.

What Works: Hit Man is a lot of fun in large part because of the central performance by Glen Powell as Gary, who poses as a hit man. The movie functions as a showcase for Powell. Gary figures that he can better lead the suspects to incriminate themselves by embodying whatever they imagine a hit man must be like and Gary creates a variety of elaborate costumes with unique identities. This gives Powell a chance to show his range which is considerable. The early part of the film allows Powell to inhabit all sorts of goofy characters and Powell shows a willingness to appear ridiculous. As the off-duty version of Gary, the character begins the film dorky and awkward but he adopts a smooth and confident masculine identity; the act becomes reality and the film is interested in the capacity for people to change their sense of self. While the movie may be a little too optimistic about the ease with which we can alter our identity, the core question is an interesting one and it gives Hit Man a bit more substance than the usual little-white-lie storyline. Hit Man is part crime story, part character study, and part romance. Gary falls for Madison, a woman nearly ensnared by law enforcement’s entrapment scheme, and their love story is very likable and very hot. The romance raises the stakes of the drama by putting Gary’s happiness and career on the line; the legal and professional danger of the relationship makes it exciting. 

What Doesn’t: The ending of Hit Man is too neat and clean. The film culminates in a turn of events that it has been building toward since the beginning but the fallout of the climax is very Hollywood in a way that undercuts the intelligence and insight of the rest of the movie. As in every love story predicated on a lie, the truth inevitably comes out. This should have larger consequences. Madison fell in love with a man she believed to be a killer; his supposed profession is what made Gary attractive to her in the first place and discovering the truth ought to undermine their whole relationship. The filmmakers ignore all that to wrap up the movie in a pat and simplistic conclusion.

Disc extras: Available on Netflix.

Bottom Line: Hit Man is a fun mix of a crime story and a romance. The film works largely because of its love story and the performance by Glen Powell and it’s mostly thoughtful and very funny.

Episode: #1001 (June 23, 2024)