HomeNews"Hit Man" Proves That Glen Powell Is the Modern-Day Cary Grant

“Hit Man” Proves That Glen Powell Is the Modern-Day Cary Grant

Given the title, you would expect Hit Man, starring Glen Powell, to be quite similar to other recent Netflix films about assassins, such as Michael Fassbender’s well-oiled The Killer or Jennifer Lopez’s exercise in cold, homicidal wrath.

Actually, Hit Man is unique and has its own peculiar, enchanting charm: When you stare down the barrel of a rifle, a bouquet of paper flowers may appear.

Another way to emphasize that Richard Linklater, whose previous movies included Gentle Celebrations of Romance (Before Midnight), Childhood, and Adolescence (Boyhood and Dazed and Confused), is the director of Hit Man.

Hit Man is about a nice, bewildered human being learning to live life on his unusual terms—just that. It, like The Holdovers, is reminiscent of the oddball, character-driven Hollywood films that are becoming rarer. It’s gentle and entertaining, but it doesn’t push.

Based on an article published in Texas Monthly in 2001, Hit Man tells the story of Gary Johnson, a philosophy professor who quotes Nietzsche to his students, urging them to seize the day—even though his own solitary life, shared with some cats, isn’t exactly carpe diem.

That changes when he takes up a side job providing surveillance for the New Orleans police. He joins a sting operation as a last-minute substitute, posing as a kill guy for hire and enticing dissatisfied wives, husbands, and lovers who want to be free of their frustratingly insignificant partners.

Gary is ecstatic about how much actorly self-invention the role needs. Like the real Johnson, who was dubbed the Laurence Olivier of field operations, he experiments with outfits and dialects, some of which are so absurd that prospective customers could wonder whether they’re meeting with Mike Myers. In such instances, the normal reaction would be to beg for an autograph and flee.

Gary then gets himself an extremely sexual makeover—it’s the male version of Cher dyeing her hair in Moonstruck—before meeting with Madison (Adria Arjona), who wants to leave her violent spouse.

At her entrance, Madison is shot with a backlit gauziness, which is Linklater’s one instance of film noir glamour. This sets the stage for Hit Man to be an oddball take on Body Heat or perhaps an homage to James M. Cain but with a more laconic pace. Linklater isn’t too worried about keeping you on the edge of your seat; in fact, he encourages you to just sink back.

Madison, it turns out, could be playing Gary for a sap. However, unlike Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner in Prizzi’s Honor, a gangster rom-com that ends tragically, Powell and Arjona are largely involved in an escalating and highly flirty game of killer cosplay, which they find exciting.

Arjona’s portrayal, although just as sexual and seductive as Powell’s, also has an appealing touch of what could be termed naïve, not necessarily intellectual optimism—in this way, by implying an unsullied quality you can’t exactly pin down, she may steal the film from her costar.

It would ruin the film’s surprises to disclose the narrative anymore, except to say that the two fall head over heels in love, and that neither of them is really honest about anything other than their ardent feelings for one another.

Things grow complicated, and even hazardous until an unexpectedly peaceful resolution: Gary learns to understand and appreciate himself in a revolutionary new manner. He epitomizes Nietzsche’s favorite Pindar quote: “Become what you are.” It may be enjoyable.

Hit Man is now available on Netflix.

abubakarbilal
abubakarbilal
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.
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