Hit Man Review: Glen Powell Steals the Show

Richard Linklater's Funniest Film Yet

Richard Linklater’s newest comedy-thriller, Hit Man, promises laughs, lies, and intrigue following small town professor Gary Johnson. Though the film is loosely inspired by true events, viewers are in for a treat as fantasy overtakes reality in the hilarious story of an unlikely undercover operation.

We meet Gary, a divorced birdwatching enthusiast who supplements his university income with tech work for local police. Things take an unexpected turn when the department’s usual fake hitman is suspended, leaving Gary to unexpectedly step into the role. To everyone’s surprise, especially his own, Gary proves a natural deception as he adapts different guises to entrap would-be criminals.

Gary’s biggest challenge arises when his target, Madison, requests his “services” to deal with an abusive husband. Against the rules, Gary convinces Madison to leave her marriage, sparking an intense connection between them. But living this double life puts Gary on a slippery slope, blurring the lines between truth and fiction as his undercover role threatens to consume him.

With deft direction from Linklater and a star-making lead performance from Glen Powell, Hit Man promises laughs, intrigue, and insights into identity as the line between reality and fantasy becomes impossible to discern. Fans of unpredictable thrillers and character-driven comedies will find plenty to enjoy in this deceptively clever new release.

Hitman in Disguise

Richard Linklater’s Hit Man follows Gary Johnson, a philosophy professor in New Orleans who takes on a unique side job. Gary lends his technical skills to the police department, helping with undercover surveillance operations. But when the usual fake hitman is suspended, Gary is thrust into the role himself.

To everyone’s surprise, the mild-mannered teacher proves a natural at posing as a contract killer. Adopting outlandish disguises and aliases, Gary skillfully tricks would-be criminals into incriminating themselves on tape. His uncanny ability to understand each target and transform completely fools even the savviest of suspects.

Gary’s biggest operation comes when a woman named Madison wants her abusive ex eliminated. Sensing her vulnerability, Gary convinces Madison to leave her husband safely rather than hire a killer. A spark flies between them, and soon Gary juggles a budding romance alongside his undercover work.

Of course, living this double life puts Gary in dangerous waters. As the professor, he lectures on identity and the fluid nature of the self. But embodying different personas for the job blurs reality further each time. Gary grows addicted to the confidence and excitement of his alter ego, “Ron,”  a far cry from his own timid nature.

When an unexpected death occurs linked to Gary and Madison, the mysteries only deepen. Gary finds himself entangled in a web of lies and deception that threatens more than just his cover. As lines continue to blur between good and bad, lawman and criminal, Gary must fight to reclaim what’s real before it’s too late.

Through it all, Gary rediscovers parts of himself he’d forgotten existed. But remaining one step ahead in this twisted game of identities tests both his morals and his heart. Hit Man is a wickedly clever tale that keeps audiences guessing until the very end. With twists around each corner, this is one thriller where no disguise is as it seems.

Hit Man’s Winning Formula

Richard Linklater is one of cinema’s most talented directors. From the cult classic Dazed and Confused to his epic Boyhood, he’s renowned for finding humanity in all types of stories. Hit Man looks to continue Linklater’s winning streak.

Hit Man Review

The filmmaker brings his signature blend of humor and heart to this action comedy. Though based on a true crime tale, Linklater never loses sight of his characters. We feel for Gary’s dilemma as an undercover role consumes him. And Glen Powell shines thanks to Linklater’s guidance, showing layers beneath cover identities.

Hit Man also benefits from Powell’s contributions as co-screenwriter. Drawing from his own starring role, Powell understands Gary inside and out. The script taps into what makes the protagonist tick, from his passion for philosophy to insecurities kept at bay as “Ron.” Wit flows naturally from interactions, feeling more lived-in than scripted.

Linklater and Powell find comedy in the absurdity of Gary’s predicament without playing it solely for laughs. They highlight Gary’s loneliness and longing for purpose, making his predicament more poignant. Even the wildest disguises hint at inner truths, with Linklater maintaining tangible human grounding.

The director immerses us in Gary’s mind through fluid transitions between identities. Quick cuts effortlessly place us in the mindset of whichever character holds the stage. Yet Linklater never loses sight of the man beneath, as tension mounts over where role-playing may lead.

Powell’s script also digs past surface thrills to questions of identity core to Gary’s work. How much can people change without losing themselves? It probes this without didacticism, engaging through richly-drawn characters and their heat-packing chemistry.

Linklater and Powell’s teamwork has crafted a comedy that entertains while slipping in cerebral provocations. Their winning formula of humor, heart, and hijinks makes Hit Man one of the most enjoyable films of the year.

Stealing the Show

Glen Powell absolutely runs away with Richard Linklater’s Hit Man. The movie lives or dies on whether audiences buy into Powell as the reluctant undercover “hitman” Gary Johnson, and he nails it completely. Watching Powell shift between mild-mannered professor Gary and suave ladiesman “Ron” is a masterclass in charismatic acting.

You really believed Gary was this bland, forgettable guy at first. But then Powell smoothly transitions into each over-the-top persona with moves that are both hilarious and convincing. Whether it’s the Eastern European scarface or the English dandy, he commits fully without playing it purely for laughs. It’s clear Powell thoroughly enjoyed exploring these bigger-than-life characters.

Of course, the movie wouldn’t work without the underlying humanity Powell brings. Even in the most outrageous disguises, you still see the awkward, vulnerable Gary underneath. That grounded quality is what gets audiences truly invested in his impossible situation. Powell imbues Gary with such charm and likability that you can’t help but root for the guy, no matter how deep he finds himself.

If Powell owns the central performance, it’s Adria Arjona who really helps elevate it. She has amazing chemistry with Powell from their very first scene together. When Gary and Madison connect as “Ron” and the target, there’s an electric spark between them you can’t take your eyes off of.

Arjona brings a real playfulness and sense of danger to Madison that’s incredibly alluring. But she also shows the character’s vulnerability underneath. You understand completely why Gary would risk so much just to be with her. Their romance really sizzles thanks to the palpable chemistry Arjona and Powell share.

It’s performances like these that will have audiences raving about Hit Man long after seeing it. Powell proves he’s a true leader for the ages. And with Arjona by his side, their dynamic absolutely steals the show. With characters this richly drawn and actors this talented inhabiting them, it’s no wonder Hit Man proves such an utterly delightful screwball romp.

Weaving Many Threads

Hit Man weaves together comedy, action, and thriller elements in a truly distinctive blend. On the surface, it’s laugh-out-loud funny to see mild-mannered Gary transform into different over-the-top personas. But Linklater still lays the groundwork for pulse-quickening moments too. The romance sizzles with danger, while the premise keeps you guessing where the story may lead.

It’s this meshing of tones that gives the film such depth. Light comedy and intensifying suspense flow seamlessly into each other. We understand Gary better through both his humorous misadventures and the weightier choices they require. The script also invests us in Madison, crafting an aura of mystery around her that keeps us invested in where their risky relationship may go.

Beyond the crisp entertainment value, Linklater infuses the proceedings with commentaries on identity. Gary grapples with the allure of shedding his dull skin for confident new personas. But he comes to understand that true change isn’t so straightforward. Linklater seems to say that our real selves exist underneath the surface, no matter what guises we adopt.

He also appears to comment on acting itself through Gary’s double performance as an undercover cop and lover. The script even has fun punctuating the “fourth wall,” with one brilliant scene of the couple improvising a fake argument for the listening police. It highlights how acting reflects truths about human nature, for better or worse.

By blending comedy, romance, thrills, and social insight, Hit Man sparks thought as much as laughter. It sticks with you not just for the ride but also for what it says about lives guided by illusion rather than inner truth. Linklater and Powell clearly aimed to craft more than a simple crowd-pleaser; their blend of the lighthearted and meaningful makes for an endlessly watchable film.

Shifting Identities

Hit Man isn’t just about characters altering their personas; it transforms before your eyes through slick technical aspects. Shane Kelly’s cinematography paints scenes with stylish flair, blending action and humor gracefully. Scenes of Gary undercover have a polished sheen befitting his alter egos, capturing each character through vivid lenses. Moments between Gary and Madison crackle with sizzling chemistry too, with Kelly’s camera adoring their attraction.

Editor Sandra Adair also shapes shifting tones expertly. She seamlessly cuts between Gary’s mundane teacher life and edgier undercover missions. Adair stitches scenes together with zippy timing, amplifying suspense just as humor emerges. Whether showing Gary slipping into a new disguise or teasing complex reveals, her cuts are always razor sharp. Through her hands, plot twists unfold fluidly, like pages of a thrilling novel.

Split-second transitions whisk viewers deftly between locations and identities. We slip alongside Gary, experiencing life’s contradictions, never quite sure where scenes may lead. Linklater builds a surreal world where reality bends, and Adair and Kelly ensure it envelops us totally. Their visual panache brings full theaters to roaring laughter one moment, gripped on edges the next.

Hit Man plays like a moving funhouse through these masters’ efforts. They harness cinematic muscle to reflect the movie’s soul, reminding us that life contains countless exciting roles to explore if only we embrace the possibilities of “self” with daring joy. Style and substance collide in a tribute to imagination, proving technical prowess can uplift any story when wielded with heart.

Hit Man Delivers Big Laughs

Richard Linklater crafts a fun comedy in Hit Man. This film offers belly laughs from start to finish, thanks to Glen Powell’s superb leading performance. Powell owns the role of Gary, shining in both the character’s mild-mannered scenes as a teacher and bold sequences undercover. He slides between Gary and his alter egos with infectious enthusiasm, keeping viewers constantly entertained. Linklater directs with a relaxed touch that allows Powell’s talents to fully shine.

The script deserves praise too. Co-written by Linklater and Powell, it finds the perfect balance of humor and seriousness. Scenes teeter skillfully between witty banter and meaningful drama, never failing to engage. The dialogue and situations feel genuine while retaining a bright spirit. Credit goes to the director and star’s clever collaboration for such a well-rounded story.

If you’re seeking pure fun at the movies, look no further than Hit Man. It delivers big laughs from start to close without relying on crude humor. Linklater proves once more his mastery of tone, fully committing to this picture’s comedic vision. Powell, a major new star in the making, anchors the film with a star-making lead performance. Together, director and actor craft a tremendously entertaining comedy not to be missed. For an enjoyable couple hours of twisty laughs and feel-good vibes, Hit Man is the clear choice.

The Review

Hit Man

8 Score

In summary, Hit Man represents Richard Linklater at his hilarious best. Glen Powell owns his multifaceted role, seamlessly shifting between personas with irresistible charm. Co-writer Linklater crafts a razor-sharp script that effortlessly balances wit and heart. While other films may grab more awards attention, Hit Man deserves wide audiences for its ability to consistently deliver belly laughs. It's an unpretentious comedy done very right.


  • Excellent comedic performance from Glen Powell
  • A clever script that balances humor and drama well.
  • Witty dialogue and entertaining situations
  • A lighthearted yet engaging story


  • Predictable plot progression at times
  • Some pacing issues in the third act
  • Comedy may not land for all audiences.

Review Breakdown

  • Overall 8
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