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Hit Man

Glen Powell and Adria Arjona exude crackling chemistry in Richard Linklater's latest

Glen Powell is taking Hollywood by storm. His recent foray into blockbuster territory with roles in Top Gun: Maverick (2022) and Anyone But You (2023) paved the way for even bigger fare, such as this summer’s Twisters (2024). However, the American performer cut his teeth in indie fare, jumping onto my radar in the underseen Richard Linklater film Everybody Wants Some!! (2016). He’s now reteamed with Linklater, this time taking on co-writer and producer duties as well.


Hit Man (2024) is loosely based on the true story of Gary Johnson (Powell), a university professor in 1990s New Orleans, who, on the side, works for the police in sting operations, acting as hit men for hire. In one operation, Gary baits Madison (Adria Arjona) with whom he connects deeply with, challenging the boundaries of his fake persona and his internal desires.


As with Linklater’s other work, the key of the narrative rests on character chemistry and dialogue. In Hit Man’s case, the relationship between Gary and Madison is at the core. Powell and Arjona demonstrate such crackling chemistry from their first seconds together that I was surprised the screen did not burst into flames during their bantered. Their witticisms, side-glances, and shuddered breaths brought an undeniability to their attraction, making the bizarre circumstances around them all the more believable.


Hit Man is also a secret romantic comedy, luring viewers through its seeming action premise, yet falling along predictable rom-com structure. Following these classic generic beats, is done in a cheekily satirical way, with viewers amazed at how dark elements fall neatly into the rom-com mold.


Powell had been straggled in the romantic comedy genre for a while, where it has felt constraining for an actor who’s charm and wit is capable of more. He was winning in Set it Up (2018) and Anyone But You, but the way he flexes his chops in Hit Man, playing an innumerable variety of colorful personalities, showcases impressive and untapped range. This, alongside his writing and producing credits, illustrates a creative mind bursting with potential. Powell might be riding the wave of fame and celebrity high now, but he is showing that this is only a fraction of his capabilities.


Hit Man plays around with expectation and genre, yet largely falls along a familiar structure, if with an unexpected presentation. The snappy dialogue, balanced dark humor, and absolutely irresistible chemistry between the leads, makes Hit Man the invigorating creative boost that the stale rom-com had been asking for, for decades.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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