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Hit Man (2023) Review — A Witty and Clever Black Comedy

Updated: Jun 19

The following review is for the new Netflix streaming film Hit Man. This article does not contain significant spoilers.


 

No matter how outlandish the new Netflix dark comedy Hit Man can be—and it is most of the time—it is always entertaining. Much of that credit should go to star Glen Powell, who shows just the kind of talent, charisma, and promise that his career has demonstrated up to this point, making his future seem limitless.


I mean, how many leading men can reinvigorate the dead box office genre of the romantic comedy and create a box office hit? The Anyone But You star has another massive hit on his hands with Hit Man, a witty, clever, and sexy black comedy that is much more nuanced than it appears on the surface.


The fact is, Hit Man is a film that sneaks up on you.

Adria Arjona and Glenn Powell in Hit Man (2024) | Image via Netflix

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Netflix's Hit Man Review and Synopsis


The premise of Hit Man takes the concept of a television procedural—hiring a consultant off the street to help police with investigations—but in this case, the story of Gary Johnson (Powell) stumbles into a role out of happenstance. Gary is a professor at the local city college and moonlights as an IT expert for the police.


Gary assists detectives Claudette (Retta), Phil (Sanjay Rao), and Jasper (Austin Amelio). He helps ensure the surveillance van's recording equipment is working properly. However, after Jasper is suspended for being the department's social media nightmare, Gary is forced into service, pretending to be a "hit man" for hire, a profession that doesn't really exist.


Yet people always seem to get caught trying to hire one, like Maddy (Andor's Adria Arjona). Gary has a voracious appetite for knowledge and uses his recent study of human behavior to create different personas. Not only is Gary good at the job, but it has also broken him out of his dull, predictable self. Soon, he falls for Maddy, and things spin out of control.

Adria Arjona and Glenn Powell in Hit Man (2024) | Image via Netflix


Netflix's Hit Man is a Taut and Clever Black Comedy


Hit Man is truly a Texas affair. Native Texans Richard Linklater and Glen Powell wrote the adaptation from the Texas Monthly article of the same name from Skip Hollandsworth, whom Linklater has a relationship with from their time together on the American black comedy Bernie. Linklater and Powell capture the absurdity, even hubris of the source material.


The script is a uniquely Texas story based on a real-life figure, Gary Johnson, who helped catch over 60 criminals in the city of Houston. Linklater and Powell tweak the ending to evolve Johnson's hitman from a quirky farce to a work of dark comedic art that has a lot to say about human behavior. That's because Powell's character is an evolving one.


Powell's Gary becomes a product of extroversion and transformative learning, turning into the person he wants to be. My minor quibble is with Gary, who wants to be the playboy hitman he created named Ron. You don't learn much about Gary before he transforms from his nerdy self. There has to be some inherent darkness there that is never explored.

Glenn Powell in Hit Man (2024) | Image via Netflix


Is Netflix's Hit Man Worth Watching?


Netflix's Hit Man is worth watching for its wonderful, clever, witty dialogue, Powell's magnetic performance, and the sizzling chemistry between Powell and Arjona. Whatever you think of the conjured plot, they share an undeniable, endearing heat (I just made that up) pulsating between them.


That's why Linklater's film works on many levels. Like its main character, the story constantly evolves into something engaging and entertaining. Gary Johnson's embellishment is an example of the morphing of storytelling, which may never be considered true art but has long-lasting appeal that people could embrace for years to come.

Summary: Netflix's Hit Man features wonderful, clever, and witty dialogue, Powell's magnetic performance, and the sizzling chemistry between Powell and Arjona. Grade: 8/10

You can watch Hit Man now in theaters and stream on Netflix on June 7th.



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