[Courtesy of Netflix]

Movie Review: Hit Man

07:00 June 10, 2024
By: Fritz Esker

Hit Man (2023)

When you watch enough movies, you start to get a pretty reliable sense of where they're going. A movie doesn't have to be surprising or unpredictable to be good or even great (a child could guess where Raiders of the Lost Ark is headed narratively). But it's a rare treat for longtime cinephiles to watch a movie where you think "I am genuinely unsure how this movie is going to end." Director Richard Linklater has recently served up such a film with the dark romantic comedy Hit Man.

Glen Powell (who co-wrote the script with Linklater) plays Gary Johnson, a University of New Orleans professor who has a side gig with the NOPD assisting with audio surveillance during sting operations to catch people looking to hire hitmen. On one outing, the cop who normally plays the role of the hitman (Austin Amelio) learns he is suspended for excessive use of force. So an initially reluctant Johnson is asked to play the role of the hitman.

But Johnson takes to his undercover performances like a fish to water. A nerdy academic, he relishes the chance to exit his own skin and be someone more confident and assertive, even if it's only for a short time. But he soon meets with a woman (Adria Arjona) who claims to be suffering at the hands of an abusive and threatening husband. Instead of trapping her, he tries to steer her on a different course.

Revealing more would spoil the fun of Hit Man. Powell and Arjona have great chemistry and the script has a lot of funny moments. The role of Gary is a tough one to play because the actor in question has to be equally convincing as a tentative dork and an assertive alpha male. Overall, Powell (Top Gun: Maverick, Anyone But You) does give a good performance but his looks and natural charisma make him more believable once he slips into his hit man persona than he is in the early scenes.

New Orleanians will also enjoy spotting a lot of familiar locations. UNO's campus, Ms. Mae's, the Avenue Pub, City Park, and Ted's Frostop all make appearances. The soundtrack also features local legends Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.

I am a broken record on this issue, but viewers who complain that Hollywood doesn't make enough original films targeted at adults need to put their money where their mouth is and support films like Hit Man when Hollywood does release them (it is currently playing at Prytania Canal Place).

Sign Up!