Hit Man Review: LFF 2023

HIT MAN 01 hero

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Audiences will have a riotously good time at Richard Linklater (Boyhood, School of Rock) and Glen Powell’s sexy comedy Hit Man

On seeing the lineup for this years London Film Festival in which both this movie and David Fincher hit man movie The Killer are playing I thought to myself, ‘well this is awkward, big-name directors managing to release twin films – one has to go right?’ Fortunately, whilst both movies are loosely about hired guns, I can pretty confidently say without even having seen it yet that this is nothing like the Fincher murder fest. For starters it’s a huge amount of fun.

Glen Powell (Top Gun Maverick, Set It Up) plays Gary Johnson, university philosophy professor and part time tech contractor for the New Orleans police department. An awkward but good-natured man in coke bottle glasses and jean shorts, Gary spends most of his spare time at home with his two cats or out birdwatching with his binoculars.

When the cop he usually works for is suspended right before an operation Gary finds himself having to step into an undercover role. Impersonating a hardened hit man, he gathers evidence in order to arrest those looking for help to off their loved ones. With his passion for research and an interest in human psychology Gary turns out to be the perfect fake hit man, creating a series of lurid characters to entrap the stupidest of NOLA’s would be murderers.

With an element of ‘fake it till you make it,’ Gary starts to gain a newfound confidence and swagger with the help of his hit man persona Ron. Things start to get a little more complicated when he meets beautiful would-be customer Madison, played by Adria Arjona (Andor, Good Omens) and finds himself wrapped up in her troubled relationship with her husband. Before long Gary is caught in a web of lies that threatens to destroy both his cover and his life.

Adria Arjona and Glen Powell in Hit Man
Adria Arjona and Glen Powell in Richard Linklaters Hit Man

Hit Man works so well due to a star central turn by Glen Powell and the impossibly hot chemistry between its two lead stars. Powell simply oozes charisma, where his star has been on the rise for a while, this film cements him as a true leading man. Linklater hilariously tries to give us a teen movie style makeover when Gary gets some better clothes and takes off his glasses and suddenly becomes – hot?! – but really, he’s just undeniably magnetic throughout. A future A-lister is born.

See other London Film Festival reviews here

Powell is a natural comedian with impeccable timing, he gifts us with absurd accents and facial expressions that absolutely sell the silliness of this story, while Linklater still retains that warmth and human interest that his big character movies have come to be known for. Where Arjona’s femme fatale character would risk being nothing but eye candy in less skilled hands she is undeniably charming here, and you can’t help but root for this unlikely pairing to make it out of this whole mess together.

His funniest film since School of Rock (and possibly ever,) Linklater and Powells script is a cleverly crafted crowd pleaser. Hit Man has just enough action and swagger to stop it descending into farce even as the plot reaches its most ridiculous moments, and enough steamy sex appeal to leave audiences wanting a cold shower afterwards. I can honestly pay it my highest possible praise which is to say this: though I only watched it last week, I already want to watch it again.

Hit Man is screening as part of the BFI London Film Festival, A general release date has yet to be announced, but it has been bought for streaming by Netflix

Watch the trailer here

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