Star Rating:

Hit Man

Streaming On: Watch Hit Man on Netflix

Director: Richard Linklater

Actors: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona

Release Date: Friday 7th June 2024

Genre(s): Comedy, Crime, Romance

Running time: 115 minutes

Going through the filmography of Glen Powell and Adria Arjona, a sexy thriller-comedy about a dorky professor pretending to be an assassin and convincing a desperately attractive woman of the same fact feels like relatively obvious fare for both of them.

After all, they're both skilled actors who are more than capable of blending charm, confidence, and allure without any of it seeming smug or inaccessible. It also helps that both of them are conventionally attractive people. Yet for Richard Linklater, 'Hit Man' seems like an aberration until you start to really examine his filmography. While everyone points to 'Boyhood' or 'Dazed and Confused', his work on the 'Before' trilogy and 'School of Rock' tells you that he's a director who is able to understand broad appeal and tastes, and fashion something smart and funny with it.

'Hit Man' is just that - a deceptively smart and astute examination of self-deception, but also just a grown-up, funny and sexy comedy-thriller with two leads at the top of their powers and a director who isn't afraid to go there. Powell plays Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered college professor who has a part-time gig with the New Orleans Police Department and finds himself inexplicably pulled into a sting operation where he must pretend to be a killer-for-hire. Johnson, it turns out, is incredible at playing the role of assassin and soon begins to take on the role permanently.

Again, the movie's intelligent enough to point out that hit men are a complete figment of imagination, borne out of pulp novels and movies. This then begins to inform the outsized costumes and theatricality - he turns up dressed vaguely like Tilda Swinton at one point, complete with surgical haircut and accent - and by the time Adria Arjona's character comes around, he's left behind his geeky visage and become far more confident in himself.

From there, Linklater guides 'Hit Man' into a silky smooth rhythm of scenes between Arjona and Powell where they practically vibrate on screen with chemistry. For all the eventual bullshit surrounding 'Anyone But You' and the possible off-screen shenanigans, 'Hit Man' is the one where it feels quite possible that these two might actually have been hooking up between takes, such is the power of their performance. Linklater's ability to create these authentic, easygoing moments works perfectly with all of this, and subsequently carries it through some of the scenes where it's being far too deliberate about its themes and ideas.

Clever without being obtuse, sexy without being arch, 'Hit Man' is a delightful romp.