Sunday 16 June 2024

Netflix And Chill: Hit Man (2024)

Directed by Richard Linklater, and co-written between himself and his star, Glen Powell, Hit Man is another film that originated with Skip Hollandsworth (who worked with Linklater on Bernie). It's also another film that allows Powell to shine brightly as his star continues to ascend.

Powell plays a fairly meek and unmemorable university professor named Gary Johnson, albeit one who still looks a fair bit like Glenn Powell. He also works undercover with a local police department, helping them with surveillance equipment that is used when they have an officer posing as a fake hitman to deal with the kind of people who are dangerous/desperate enough to pay for someone to be murdered. Circumstances change during one such sting operation, resulting in Gary taking on the role of the hitman. He shows quite an aptitude for playing that role, and playing a variety of roles, but things become complicated when he encounters Madison (Adria Arjona), a woman suffering at the hands of an abusive husband. 

Maybe a bit unsatisfying, and tonally uneven throughout most of the runtime (it cannot decide what kind of humour it prefers, it keeps things too light for any real tension, and there's the big hurdle of Glen Powell being cast as someone who we're supposed to believe isn't exuding charisma from every pore), Hit Man is nonetheless a good time for those who are happy to go along for the ride. Plenty of liberties have been taken with the true story it is based on, but the central idea remains gripping because it is tethered strongly enough to our reality.

While this is absolutely a star vehicle for Powell (who makes the most of a role that allows him to adopt many different personas, from a timid starting point to the cool Roy, his most popular hitman identity, and plenty of other memorable "cameos", including an uncanny facsimile of Patrick Bateman), he's helped enormously by Arjona, who creates complications while also providing some extra heat as the chemistry between herself and Powell fizzes and crackles from their very first encounter. Retta and Sanjay Rao are amusing enough as two dependable police department colleagues, Austin Amelio is much less dependable, but also part of the police department, and there are enjoyable turns from a wide mix of supporting players. I won't try to recall them all now though, especially when viewers are constantly reminded that every main plot point revolves around our two leads.

It's a shame that neither Linklater nor Powell really have the confidence to lean into the comedy or darkness of the premise, especially when they seem so confident in their working relationship, but there's still a lot to enjoy here, and it's obvious that choices were made to keep this firmly in the realm of easygoing comedy drama. It works in that way. I just wish that everyone involved had taken one or two more risks with the material.

It may not be a direct hit, but it's very far from a miss.


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  1. At least it's different from other movies about hit men. I've heard some sites say it's been a hit for Netflix and others say it flopped. I guess that's a problem with streaming movies.

    1. I certainly think it feels more at home on Netflix than on the big screen, but that is in line with the more low-key approach that Linklater tends to have with his movies most of the time IMO.