Hit Man

Hit Man
Hit Man
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On Hit Man, Richard Linklater continues his collaboration with Netflix and also directs a movie that is so much notably less complex than Apollo 10½. Actually, it is very mainstream to the extent that it has Glen Powell, who is the handsome young du jour star who featured in Anyone but You alongside Sydney Sweeney and Top Gun: Maverick opposite Tom Cruise, rising into stardom quite fast. He had previously starred in three movies by fellow Texan Richard Linklater like Fast Food Nation (2006), Everybody Wants Some!! (2016) and aforementioned Apollo 10½ (2022). Now he’s co-writing and co-producing with Linklater on Hit Man, a film that affords him the kind of role an actor would kill for.

That is because Powell plays Gary Johnson (fortunately not the Libertarian politician), a notorious shape-shifting eccentric whose partnership contributed to Houston police arresting more than seventy people. Working as a staff investigator for Harris County district attorney’s office, Johnson would pretend to be a hit man-for-hire and thus draw in or entrap individuals willing to pay thousands of dollars for commissions murder on relatives such as family members, spouses, rivals among many others. Once they gave him money and recorded their intentions police came in

Johnson didn’t just show up himself at all these arrests either; he preferred disguises and other identities instead. In this way therefore Powell gets cast as multiple different characters making it more than simply an acting exercise. It’s about identity; self-concept; fantasy violence appeal; performance relationships shows can be heady sometimes A colorful goofy sexy comedy with some clever twists it might occasionally dip into Philosophy 101 territory (this being Waking Life director after all) Ultimately though Hit Man is really wild but oh-so-cool slapstick fun!!! It even feels weirdly unhinged.

This spells disaster from the get-go one wonders how Hit Man could ever bounce back from such a terribly corny start (and Powell’s performance). This is mostly because it moves at a fairly quick pace, soon thrusting Gary into action with the DA’s secret team.

Real life Johnson appears much different from Powell and is far more fascinating. In Hit Man, there is no mention of his deep love for Buddhism, while drawing any connection between pacifist Johnson to violence may have been seen as offensive (he died in 2022) I mean he does a great job here, but really he’s too handsome to take seriously; he doesn’t appear like someone who dines on TV dinners alone with his cats Ego and Id and talks about birds all day long. He’s an actor. However, after watching Hit Man for some time, Powell’s performance becomes more interesting and the labyrinthine dialogue holds your attention and becomes increasingly implausible.

If you haven’t figured it out already, Hit Man is not a movie about real hit men and assassins; the way even makes fun of them and presents them as cinematic fantasy is almost like an anti-hit man movie. But, that doesn’t mean it’s without thrills. In successful series of Gary’s assisted arrests, he is tasked with making a woman confess (or entrap) her husband who seems genuinely afraid of him and might be a victim of his abuse whether emotionally or physically also.

This is Madison played by great Adria Arjona who has done great performances with much weak material but has been fantastic in some really good things (Irma Vep especially). She looks so sexy here and their sexual chemistry just makes the sex comedy Anyone but You look like nothing. Gary feels bad for Madison and doesn’t want to see her arrested blowing the operation instead and telling her to spend her money on leaving her husband which is often not as simple as it may seem in Hit Man.

Madison meeting Gary sounds like a cheesy rom-com starring two quirky weirdos when it should be an abused woman desperately trying to pay someone she barely knows to murder her husband. It’s all so creepy but kind of cringey too, just like most of their teasing flirtatious dialogue scenes in Hit Man. Not at all what Linklater did with his Before trilogy. Yet Powell plays his best every time he opens his mouth for lines; still would have been tastier if there were more moments without dialogues .At this point, Madison reaches out to Gary, they begin having sex together while totally lying—she thinks he is a killer hired on contract basis who poses as one himself.

The connection between Madison and Gary speaks volumes about both characters themselves. Imagine being told that this lady once tried to pay somebody else to kill her abusive husband, now she wants to sleep with an assassin for hire? A similar case is when a man can’t choose his real self over the fake persona of a killer and this fears that he will not be attractive enough anymore. Hit Man loses its sexy rom-com vibe and becomes a film about two total psychopaths. This may or may not be serious according to Linklater.

Yes, Hit Man is mad. It has the feel of an enjoyable romcom shot in vibrant colours, but there’s something wrong with its characters. As it tightens its narrative around them and makes them face almost impossible situations, Linklater slowly reveals more about who they are. He and Powell write a smart Rube Goldberg machine of a script, even though there are parts of it that are cringe-worthy and crazy. There have been so many good movies like this that do entertain you enough to make you forget how bad they were at doing other things.

But no matter how painful or absurd it might seem, Hit Man manages to address a few of its intended themes, even if at times it does so quite crudely. In other words, does the concept of ‘selfhood’ have any elasticity? Can we become someone else through our actions? Do we modify ourselves in response to what people think about us (or want to think about us)? When is fantasy healthy and when is it destructive? These are the things that apply to art and one’s vocation as an actor, which is why Powell was attracted to the story.

This seemed like a good way for Powell to keep the book funny while addressing such issues. Not only that but also its examination on why we admire violence; why do we condemn involvement in fights yet seek entertainment in its imitation? This could be a topic you consider for yourself. Hopefully, your own relationship isn’t as crazy as Gary and Madison’s.

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