Glen Powell proves himself: Netflix’s ‘Hit Man’ is fun and delightfully unpredictable

By Bob Grimm

I owe Glen Powell a bit of an apology. I took a few digs at him a couple of weeks ago in my summer movie preview, saying I wasn’t all that fond of his work and did not have high hopes for his upcoming films. I was still a little sour after seeing him in the awful Anyone but You, and nothing he had done outside of Top Gun: Maverick had really impressed.

In Netflix’s Hit Man—directed by Richard Linklater and based very loosely on the real life of Gary Johnson, an man working undercover alongside police as a fake hit man—Powell gets to show off quite a bit. The character calls for a lot of costumes, disguises and personas, similar to Chevy Chase in the Fletch series, and Powell proves to be a versatile comedic actor with an impressive dramatic edge.

When I say “loosely based,” I mean that close to nothing in this movie actually happened, other than the general setup of Gary Johnson (Powell) wearing a wire and getting people seeking contract killers to confess on tape. We see Johnson go through a series of potential hit-man scenarios, getting a lot of folks busted. Along the way, Gary meets up with Madison (Adria Arjona), talks her out of a possible hit, and then becomes romantically entangled with her.

This leads to all sorts of complications, and the script—cleverly co-written by Linklater, Powell and Skip Hollandsworth—has a lot of fun with the setup. It’s hard to get a beat on where exactly the film is going, which makes it constantly surprising.

Powell and Arjona have great screen chemistry, and you’ll want to root for their characters throughout the many twists and turns. The film is a nice change of pace from the standard romantic comedy, and the duo have a scene involving texts and improvised dialogue that is dynamite.

It’s a strong showing for Powell and Arjona, and it’s good to see Linklater hitting all the right marks again. Maybe Hollywood can make Powell happen after all.

Hit Man is now streaming on Netflix.

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