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Film Review

‘Hit Man’ is a must-watch for fans of quirky, well-written comedies

7/3/2024

“Hit Man”
R | 115 minutes
Director: Richard Linklater
Writers: Richard Linklater, Glen Powell, Skip Hollandsworth
Stars: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, Austin Amelio

“Hit Man” is a surprising gem that blends comedy, action and romance into an unexpectedly delightful package. At the heart of the film is Glen Powell, who delivers a standout performance as Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered college professor moonlighting as a fake hitman for the New Orleans Police Department. Powell co-wrote the screenplay with director Richard Linklater, making this film a personal project that showcases his versatility and range. His role requires him to adopt various personas to trap those looking to hire a hitman, and Powell’s ability to seamlessly shift between these identities is truly impressive.

Adria Arjona, who plays Madison, a near-client turned love interest, brings a spontaneous and erratic energy to the film, making their budding romance both charming and unpredictable. In an interview, Linklater noted that casting Madison was crucial, as the character needed to be both sympathetic and captivating — and Arjona delivers on all fronts. Their on-screen chemistry provide a core emotional and comedic balance that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

The supporting cast also deserves praise for their contributions. Retta plays Claudette, Gary’s police chaperone and supervisor, whose practical insights into crime stories add a layer of authenticity to the film. Sanjay Rao as Phil, Claudette’s partner and the tech guy in the van, provides comic relief with his naturalistic performance. Austin Amelio plays Jasper, the dirty cop whose suspension leads to Gary taking the fake hitman job. Amelio’s portrayal of Jasper’s erratic and unpredictable nature adds tension and intrigue throughout the flick.

Director Richard Linklater, known for his ability to craft engaging narratives, brings his expertise to “Hit Man.” The film transitions seamlessly between comedy and drama, with an unexpected twist halfway through that revitalizes the plot and keeps viewers engaged. Linklater’s direction ensures that the film’s pacing never falters, making each scene compelling and entertaining. His collaboration with Powell, dating back to when Powell was a teen actor in Linklater’s “Fast Food Nation,” is evident in the film’s cohesive storytelling and dynamic character development.

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The unpredictability of the storyline is one of its greatest assets. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, “Hit Man” throws a curveball that keeps the narrative fresh and exciting. This unpredictability extends to the film’s conclusion, which is both satisfying and leaves room for potential sequels. 

Despite initial low expectations, “Hit Man” surpasses them with its smart script, strong performances and thoughtful direction. Linklater and Powell’s writing effectively balances humor with heartfelt moments, ensuring that even during slower scenes, the audience remains captivated. The attention to detail in the character development and the intricate plot twists make it a film worth watching multiple times.

Powell’s performance is the standout, but the entire cast brings the story to life. The film’s comedic elements are perfectly timed, and the life lessons subtly woven into the narrative leave a lasting impact. It’s a film that encourages viewers to reflect on their own lives while enjoying the comedic escapades of its characters.

Finally we may be able to return to the days of the R-rated comedy (instead of relying on Ryan Reynold and “Deadpool”) as “Hit Man” is a must-watch for fans of quirky, well-written comedies. It offers a unique blend of humor, action and romance that is rarely seen in today’s cinematic landscape. With exceptional performances, especially by Glen Powell, and masterful direction by Richard Linklater, “Hit Man” is a film that will leave you entertained and thinking long after the credits roll.

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