Hit Man Movie Review – Glen Powell Shines As A Fake Hitman

Hit Man really is a tale of two movies, but not in the way that phrase normally means. The first half of the film is a whimsical ride through the “honeymoon” phase of someone and their new career direction. The second half morphs into a paranoid, tense, almost horror-lite experience. The movie comes from Richard Linklater, and for those who love his films, the first half feels a lot like movies like Dazed and Confused or Everybody Wants Some! It captures that fleeting feeling of excitement and new love, and just all around is a fun ride as an audience member. Before we get to the second half of the film, for those that don’t know Hit Man is about a college professor, turned city police department worker, turned undercover fake hitman.

Hit Man stars Glen Powell as Gary Johnson, the professor turned fake hitman, and Adria Arjona as Madison, a client that Gary gets involved with as his alter ego, Ron. It also features Retta and Sanjay Rao as two co-workers of Gary at the Police department, and Austin Amelio plays Jasper, the officer who Gary takes over for as a fake hitman. It’s a relatively small cast that all work exceptionally well together. Retta and Rao are hilarious, and I’m incredibly glad that their conversation about what they would do sexually to Ron was in the movie. They capture the co-worker dynamic so well that it’s uncanny.

Outside of Powell and Arjona, Amelio is on another level as Jasper. Throughout the entire movie, you can feel the jealousy dripping off every word as he sees Gary taking his job. His performance is what flips the film at the halfway mark, and as he learns more about Gary/Ron’s relationship with Madison, you can feel the tension ratchet up.

Bright And Cheery, Until It’s Not

In the second half of Hit Man, that bright exterior takes off some paint and shows a darker side. As the lies start unraveling for Gary/Ron, the narrative also gets darker. There are several scenes, one in particular where Madison’s soon-to-be-ex-husband hires Ron to kill her and “her new boyfriend (also Ron),” that is just a masterclass in how to build tension from Linklater, Powell, and Evan Holtzman (Madison’s husband). From that point all the way to the conclusion of the film, there’s just an underlying tension where you don’t know exactly how it’ll be resolved.

My only gripe with Hit Man is that the characters are so likable, but they’re doing some truly heinous things in the name of drama. Being based on someone’s actual life and times, the writers (Linklater and Powell) needed to add some drama, but it feels like they injected a bit too much murder, and it ends up making Ron/Gary and Madison a bit on the unlikeable side for me. They don’t really learn any lesson from their indiscretions. The only thing that Gary learns is a bit of how to balance his old and new personalities.

However, the film’s lesson about people being able to change who they are on a dime is double-edged. The characters in the film might be a bit heinous after their actions, but the message of the film is a powerful one. You can change who you are. You aren’t the person you were yesterday if you don’t want to be. It just might take a bit of pretending to be a hitman for the police to catch people stupid enough to hire a hitman on the internet.

The Verdict On Hit Man

Normally, a movie that is this different between the first and second halves would be a bit messy; but in Hit Man, it just works. Glen Powell is pure magic once again in his role. He and Adria Arjona overcome any sort of questionable morality questions with just straight-up movie charisma. Hit Man is an exceptional “real-life” story that brings a giddy level of fun to our movie screens.

Hit Man releases on Netflix on June 7th.

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