Hit Man Review: Glen Powell Shines in Richard Linklater’s Latest Film

Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man,” co-written with Glen Powell, offers an intriguing blend of action, comedy, and romance. At the film’s center is Glen Powell, whose performance brings an undeniable charm and charisma to the screen. With his square jawline, bright green eyes, and captivating smile, Powell’s star power is evident from the outset. However, the film’s reliance on suspension of disbelief and a somewhat uneven script may leave viewers with mixed feelings.

Glen Powell: The Charismatic Leading Man

Glen Powell’s ascent to movie stardom seems inevitable. His Disney-prince-like features and high-wattage charisma ensure a career beyond the usual roles for the strikingly handsome. Powell’s portrayal of Gary Johnson, a philosophy professor turned amateur undercover hit man, showcases his range and talent. Despite the film’s insistence that Gary’s face is bland and forgettable, Powell’s undeniable screen presence challenges this notion. His performance is a testament to his ability to carry a film and keep audiences engaged.

The Premise: A “Somewhat True Story”

“Hit Man” is loosely based on a “somewhat true story,” adding an element of intrigue to its narrative. Gary Johnson lives a quiet, solitary life in New Orleans, tending to his two cats, birding, and helping the local police with surveillance operations. His transformation into a fake hit man involves a series of disguises and personas, each tailored to meet the expectations of those seeking his services. This setup provides a fertile ground for comedic and dramatic moments, but the film’s execution leaves room for improvement.

The Makeover: A Missed Opportunity

The film teases a transformation for Gary, from a mild-mannered professor to a convincing hit man. However, it misses the opportunity to fully explore this aspect. While we get a glimpse of Gary watching a wig-and-makeup YouTube tutorial, the film skips over the potential fun of a full-blown makeover montage. There are no scenes of Gary struggling to find the right costumes or seeking advice from a flamboyant fashion expert. This lack of exploration feels like a missed chance to add depth and humor to the story.

Madison: The Catalyst for Change

Madison, played by Adria Arjona, enters the story as an unhappy wife looking to escape her cruel husband. Her introduction brings a new dynamic to the film, and her chemistry with Powell is electric. Their steamy romance offers some of the film’s most engaging moments, reminiscent of the sizzling connection between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in “Out of Sight.” However, the ease with which Madison escapes her abusive husband raises questions about the film’s realism. Despite this, their relationship adds an emotional layer to the narrative.

A Third Act Full of Twists and Turns

As the film progresses, Gary’s persona as “Ron” starts to dominate, leading to a thrilling third act. The introduction of an actual murder and the looming threat of exposure by a suspicious and crooked cop add tension and excitement. However, the film’s climax falls short of delivering a truly memorable twist or heightened stakes. While entertaining, it leaves viewers wanting more from the resolution.

Critical Reception: Mixed but Entertaining

“Hit Man” garnered some breathless praise during the fall film festivals, setting high expectations for its release. While it is an enjoyable and glossy Powell showcase, it may not live up to the hype of being the second coming of the action-comedy-romance genre. The film is perfectly digestible and fun, but it lacks the depth and complexity to make it a standout in its category.

A Fun but Flawed Experience

In summary, “Hit Man” offers a fun and entertaining ride, largely carried by Glen Powell’s charisma and performance. The film’s premise and setup hold promise, but its execution falls short in some areas. The lack of a fully explored makeover arc and the ease of Madison’s escape from her abusive husband are notable shortcomings. However, the chemistry between Powell and Arjona, along with the thrilling third act, make it a worthwhile watch.

Glen Powell’s Star Power

Glen Powell’s performance in “Hit Man” solidifies his status as a leading man. His charm and screen presence are undeniable, and he carries the film with ease. While “Hit Man” may not be a groundbreaking entry in the action-comedy-romance genre, it provides a showcase for Powell’s talent and sets the stage for his continued ascent in Hollywood. As viewers, we can look forward to more from this rising star, both in terms of his acting prowess and his potential future collaborations with filmmakers like Richard Linklater.

Detailed Analysis of Key Elements

The Transformation: Gary Johnson to Ron

Gary Johnson’s transformation into the hit man “Ron” is a central theme of the film. The process of adopting different disguises and personas offers a glimpse into Gary’s creativity and adaptability. However, the film glosses over the practicalities and challenges of this transformation. A deeper exploration of Gary’s journey from a philosophy professor to a convincing hit man could have added more layers to his character and provided additional comedic and dramatic moments.

Madison’s Escape: A Plausible Scenario?

Madison’s escape from her abusive husband is portrayed with surprising ease. While this allows the film to focus on her developing relationship with Gary/Ron, it also raises questions about the realism of her situation. In reality, escaping an abusive relationship is often fraught with difficulties and dangers. By simplifying this aspect, the film misses an opportunity to delve into the complexities of Madison’s character and her struggle for freedom. However, the chemistry between Powell and Arjona helps to mitigate this shortcoming, as their relationship becomes the emotional core of the film.

The Third Act: Building Tension and Suspense

The third act of “Hit Man” introduces higher stakes and increased tension. The presence of a suspicious and crooked cop adds a sense of urgency and danger to Gary’s double life. This part of the film is where the action truly picks up, and the suspense keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. However, the resolution lacks a significant twist or surprise, which could have elevated the film to a higher level of excitement and engagement. Despite this, the third act remains one of the most thrilling parts of the movie.

Suspension of Disbelief: A Necessary Element

Throughout “Hit Man,” suspension of disbelief is a necessary element for audience enjoyment. The film asks viewers to accept that characters believe Powell’s face is bland and forgettable, despite his undeniable charisma and attractiveness. This central premise requires a leap of faith, but it is essential for the story to work. While some viewers may find this aspect challenging, others may embrace the film’s playful approach to its narrative.

The Role of Humor: Balancing Comedy and Drama

“Hit Man” attempts to balance comedy and drama, with varying degrees of success. The comedic elements, particularly those involving Gary’s disguises and interactions with clients, provide light-hearted moments and amusement. However, the film occasionally struggles to find the right tone, resulting in an uneven blend of humor and seriousness. A more consistent approach to the comedic aspects could have enhanced the overall experience and provided a smoother narrative flow.

Character Development: Gary and Madison

Gary Johnson: A Multi-Faceted Character

Gary Johnson is a multi-faceted character whose journey drives the film’s narrative. His quiet, solitary life as a philosophy professor contrasts sharply with his adventurous undercover work as a hit man. Powell’s portrayal of Gary captures the character’s complexity and inner conflict. While Gary’s transformation into Ron is central to the plot, the film could have delved deeper into his motivations and personal growth. This additional character development would have provided more insight into Gary’s psyche and made his journey even more compelling.

Madison: From Victim to Empowered Woman

Madison’s character undergoes a significant transformation as well. Initially presented as a victim of domestic abuse, she evolves into an empowered woman who takes control of her life. Her relationship with Gary/Ron plays a crucial role in her journey towards self-discovery and independence. Arjona’s performance brings depth and vulnerability to Madison, making her a relatable and sympathetic character. However, the film’s simplification of her escape from an abusive relationship detracts from the realism and complexity of her story. A more nuanced portrayal of Madison’s struggle and resilience could have added emotional weight to the narrative.

Visual and Technical Aspects

Cinematography: Capturing New Orleans

“Hit Man” utilizes its New Orleans setting to great effect, with cinematography that captures the city’s unique charm and atmosphere. The film’s visual style complements its narrative, creating a vibrant backdrop for the action and romance. The use of lighting, color, and framing enhances the mood and tone of the film, adding to its overall appeal.

Costume and Makeup: Creating Disguises

The costume and makeup design play a crucial role in Gary’s transformation into various personas. Each disguise is carefully crafted to match the expectations of the clients seeking a hit man. While the film briefly touches on Gary’s use of wigs and makeup, a more detailed exploration of this aspect could have provided additional comedic moments and insights into his character. The absence of a full-blown makeover montage is a missed opportunity to showcase the creativity and effort behind Gary’s disguises.

Soundtrack: Enhancing the Mood

The film’s soundtrack complements its action, comedy, and romance elements. The music choices enhance the mood and help to convey the emotional nuances of each scene. A well-curated soundtrack adds to the film’s overall enjoyment and helps to create a cohesive viewing experience.

Final Verdict: Enjoyable but Not Groundbreaking

“Hit Man” is an enjoyable film that benefits from Glen Powell’s charismatic performance and the chemistry between Powell and Adria Arjona. While it may not revolutionize the action-comedy-romance genre, it provides an entertaining and engaging experience for viewers.

Gaurav Manral

I am from nainital, Uttrakhand, India and like to write different type of entertainment news like bollywood, Hollywood, South Indian movies, Life Style etc.