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What to Watch This Weekend – Hit Man

Hit Man is the story of Gary Johnson (Glen Powell). Gary lives in New Orleans and leads a mundane life as a divorced professor at the local university. While his primary occupation is teaching philosophy and psychology, he also has a part-time position with the New Orleans police department. In this role, Gary contributes by assisting with sting operations. He’s often called in to consult on audio technology used to capture people’s verbal intentions to hire a professional assassin. However, when the lead undercover cop goes on suspension, Gary is forced to step in, pretending to be a hitman for hire. Gary proves very proficient in taking on different personas and convincing people he’s the contract killer of their fantasies. When Gary meets a woman in need of legitimate help, he decides to take his performance to a new level.

What works in Hit Man is the fantastic swirl of charisma, charm, and intrigue. Writer/director Richard Linklater (Bernie, School of Rock) proves adept at smoothly blending genres to create an impressive form of entertainment from beginning to end. This particular recipe calls for several parts dark comedy, a generous sprinkle of sexiness, and a dash of thrills. And the real master chef of it all is Powell (Top Gun: Maverick, Anyone But You). Powell, who co-wrote the script, shows incredible range as he slides in and out of various personas with ease. At its core, Hit Man is a story of finding one’s true self, and Powell navigates this through genuinely hilarious interactions. His Gary is a person who is trying to find their place in the world along with inner confidence. Riding with Powell on this journey is nothing but an absolute delight as Hit Man gently leans into absurdity. It knows exactly when to enjoy the moments where the truth is better than fiction (Hit Man is loosely based on a true story) and when to embrace the joyous freedom of cinema.

People who don’t enjoy situations where the protagonists lie for their own personal gain may not enjoy Hit Man as much as others. As is common in films with a romantic slant, one of the leads is keeping a secret. The audience is right to eventually expect/assume that the ruse (even if done with good intentions) will come undone. This “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” type of situation may make some people tense. Furthermore, Hit Man is a bit hard to categorize. Those expecting a traditional romantic comedy may feel underserved as this film consistently deviates from formula. It’s also not quite an action film and not quite a thriller. To its credit, Hit Man is really its own thing.

Hit Man is a fantastic movie that’s easy to recommend to almost everyone (it earns its R-rating mostly from language). The combination of Linklater’s gift for storytelling and breaking down genre barriers coupled with Powell’s affability make for a fabulous time. Very highly recommended.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Fletch, Bernie, Anyone But You

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