Hit Man

Hit Man
Hit Man
Genre: Action Comedy
Director: Richard Linklater
Release Year: 2023
Runtime: 1h 57m

Honestly, what are we doing here? People actually liked this movie? I’m starting to think my brain is broken. Perhaps broken by the high quality of television over the past decade. Or my expectations. But this? This is not a good film. It’s not a good movie. It’s half-assed and silly. It’s tossed-off and unserious. It feels like something someone did on a whim. Maybe as a favor to fulfill a contract or make Glen Powell feel good that he could write a screenplay. I’ve never been a Richard Linklater guy, if I’m being real. I don’t love meandering, slice-of-life narratives. They feel lazy. Just like this movie. And, maybe, just maybe, I just don’t like movies anymore.

The thing is, this isn’t a slice-of-life film. It’s kind-of, sort-of high concept in its own way. Or at least it depends on some consistency and a script that follows an arc. But even though Hit Man is based on a true story (some parts more than others), it feels like a bad version of an Elmore Leonard novel. Like a dumbed-down, carbon copy of a carbon copy of Out of Sight. The story of how a mild-mannered college professor (who, by the way, looks like movie star, Glen Powell with glasses and a side part a la Clark Kent) goes from meek loner to man-of-action fake hitman in what seems like two minutes flat. Do we explore how that happens? Nope. Do the writers of this thing seem to care? Absolutely not. Is it weird there are so many murders for hire in this city? Yes. They get the whole psychology of this divorced, passive wimp and his sudden transformation of super-confident sex machine cool guy wrapped up in a couple quips and we’re off. Which is weird, since his growth is seemingly at the heart of things. Shrug.

The only thing I can imagine is that they looked at Powell and his co-star, Adria Arjona — both of whom are charismatic and magnetic on screen — and figured, “Fuck it, we’ll just kind of throw them up there, have them roll around having some relatively chaste sex scenes and people will eat it up. Plot and effort be damned.” And, both Powell and Arjona are indeed the only good parts of this thing. As actors. The plot is negligible. Sorry, the execution of the plot is negligible. It takes your generic film noir setup and just overlays this rickety true story on top of it. Again, it seems as if the screenplay has very little interest in making this different or interesting in any way. They didn’t lean into the femme fatale or the tension of a relationship where one member is lying to further their interest. Ands then… And then they just totally fudge the ending, throwing in a thing that totally didn’t happen in this “true story.” And then have the balls to put a “just kidding!” card on screen. Right, thanks for wasting my time.

And, look, if they wanted to make a romantic comedy, make a romantic comedy. That’s fine. Because that’s essentially what this thing is. Minus the comedy. Or at least the laughs. It’s just unclear what they were going for here. Although the bones do suggest the rom-com, but just not a great one. Because I’m not sure Linklater is into that kind of thing. In fact, looking at his oeuvre, it’s unclear what exactly it is he’s into. People revere him for Dazed and Confused and the “Before” trilogy. But the rest of his filmography is generally of fine to mixed-to-poor quality. So lets not put all of the cheesiness of the professorial lesson wrapper of the film — did I mention Powell’s character summarizes the moral of the story to his class in the form a lesson? — on Powell. Linklater isn’t perfect. And perhaps he was backed into a corner by the construct of this way-traditional movie. Not just people wandering around talking to other people, but an actual three-act structure. Not his wheelhouse.

Does Powell have a strong future? Of course. Is Arjona absolutely adorable and will definitely go on to be in something better? Indeed. Do I ever need to see another made-for-Netflix movie written by Powell? Or made by Linklater? I do not. Not if this kind of half-baked movie is going to be the result. There was a kernel of something here, but if we end up with more The Master of Disguise or The Love Guru and less Double Indemnity, I have other things I could be spending my time doing.