The latest from Richard Linklater reunites the prolific indie auteur with Everybody Wants Some!!’s Glen Powell for a sorta-true crime comedy thriller about role-play, romance, and the precarious pursuit of self-knowledge.
Gary Johnson (Glen Powell) is a philosophy professor by day, lecturing his students on theories of morality. In his downtime he works with the police in surveillance vans as a tech-savvy staff investigator during undercover sting operations. When the temperamental officer who normally plays the role of hitman is placed on leave for misconduct, milquetoast Gary is asked to step in because he vaguely resembles the ousted officer. To everyone’s surprise, Gary thrives impersonating the fabricated killers.
One day, Gary, in character as Ron, the charismatic lone-wolf hitman, meets would-be client Madison (Adria Arjona), who is desperate to get out of her abusive marriage. Sparks fly. Soon, he reaches out to Madison outside of their arrangement to start a decidedly non-professional but steamy fling. But as Gary attempts to keep his various personas separate, his lies accumulate and someone actually ends up dead. He finds himself in the middle of a real crime with all evidence leading back to him.
With Hit Man, director Richard Linklater crafts one of his most playful explorations of the individual and the way moral philosophy maps onto everyday lives and seemingly small moments — a thematic landscape he’s mastered over 30 years of filmmaking. Co-writer and producer Powell is irrepressible in montages of Gary going “method” into the psychology of his fictional assassins and creating elaborate costumes, some gleefully similar to those of certain pop-culture icons. Buoyed by crackling chemistry with Arjona, he radiates charm throughout this comedic adventure.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival