Film Review: Hit Man | MarkMeets Movies

Review Rating: 4/5 by MarkMeets

In the world of cinema, we often hear the phrase, “they don’t make them like they used to.” While this may sound clichéd, it couldn’t be more fitting when describing Richard Linklater’s latest film, Hit Man. This movie possesses a magnetic quality, blending captivating performances, laugh-out-loud humor, and a vintage aesthetic that could easily transport viewers to a bygone era. Remarkably, Hit Man is a product of 2023, offering a refreshing departure from the deluge of uninspiring, cash-grab comedies inundating both theaters and streaming platforms.

Set against the backdrop of vibrant New Orleans, Hit Man unfolds the life of Gary Cooper (Glen Powell), a quirky college psychology professor. Gary’s daily routine consists of teaching classes, nurturing a bond with the city’s avian residents, and sharing his meals with his two feline companions, aptly named “Id” and “Ego.” Yet, behind this seemingly mundane existence, Gary maintains a hidden life as a technical adviser to the New Orleans Police Department. He lends his expertise to a small, covert team dedicated to orchestrating undercover operations targeting individuals seeking to hire hitmen. When his colleague faces suspension from the NOPD, Gary reluctantly steps into the role of “Ron,” a fictional hitman employed as bait to ensnare potential suspects.

Gary sees his new persona as a means of escaping his humdrum life. Under the guise of Ron, he embraces the art of disguise, adopts various accents, and contributes to an upswing in the team’s arrest rate. However, complications arise when he crosses paths with Maddy (Adria Arjona), a woman intent on eliminating her verbally abusive husband. While Gary, masquerading as Ron, manages to dissuade her from pursuing her deadly plan, it leads to an unexpected and complex relationship that threatens to expose Gary’s dual identities.

The Swift Start and Pacing

One of the most striking features of Hit Man is its rapid start. In less than five minutes, director Richard Linklater immerses the audience in Gary’s daily routine, succinctly conveying the repetitiveness of his life. This swift introduction proves effective as the film seamlessly transitions into a fast-paced narrative that maintains momentum without slowing down to explore emotional nuances or simmering plot twists. This approach harmonizes with the film’s overall tone, keeping it lighthearted and relaxed, even as the stakes continue to rise.

A Riot of Laughter

Hit Man is a cinematic delight when it comes to humor. Perhaps its odd premise, endearing characters, and the perfect balance of one-liners contribute to the film’s riotous humor. The jokes flow seamlessly, much like the film’s pacing, with only occasional moments that feel somewhat forced. Notably, there’s a classic “they forgot to hang up” sequence in which Gary overhears his police colleagues discussing his uncoolness in comparison to his alter ego. This scene exemplifies the film’s commitment to extracting laughs from every possible angle. Although some jokes may appear contrived, most of the humor lands exceptionally well, particularly during the film’s tense climax.

The Emotional Core of Hit Man

Hit Man transcends being a one-joke movie through its exploration of Gary’s fascination and satisfaction with his alter ego, Ron. This film serves as a surprisingly poignant reflection on the universal desire to become better versions of ourselves. What sets Hit Man apart is its willingness to delve into the complexities that arise when individuals attempt such transformations. While there are moments when the film seems to hammer this idea rather directly, particularly during Gary’s psychological lectures, the themes are most effective when they naturally intertwine with the film’s comedic elements.

A Nod to the Gamers

Hit Man has an added layer of intrigue for gaming enthusiasts. As is often the case with game-to-movie adaptations, fans anticipate a faithful representation of the game’s core essence. The gaming community often yearns for an agent solely focused on stealth and achieving a silent assassin rating, which is admittedly a lofty ambition for a movie adaptation. However, Hit Man successfully strikes a balance between stealth and action, catering to both the fervent fans and the casual action moviegoer. The incorporation of game-specific features such as bomb kills, emetic rat poisoning, sniper hits, and even coin throwing adds a layer of authenticity and nostalgia.

Timothy Olyphant delivers a commendable performance as 47. While it may not be a flawless portrayal, he effectively conveys the stoic nature of Agent 47 and gradually reveals glimpses of human emotion as the story unfolds. The film resonates with fans, particularly in nostalgic moments, such as when Agent 47 retrieves his iconic silver ballers from an icebox or when children are seen playing “Blood Money” on TV while 47 crashes in. These internationally high-profile targets and opulent settings underscore the essence of what Agent 47 represents. The film meticulously preserves the iconic elements, from the Hitman insignia to the classic suit, fiber wire, and barcode, ensuring that fans are not left wanting.

Room for Improvement

While Hit Man does many things right, there is always room for improvement. The film occasionally delves into flashbacks of 47’s youth, providing glimpses of his upbringing, but a more detailed exploration would have enriched the narrative. For those who haven’t played the games, the legendary status of Agent 47 and his origins may remain somewhat enigmatic. A more in-depth exploration of his background could have clarified the presence of multiple identical, bald, barcoded assassins targeting him.

The film’s plot is serviceable, revolving around a manhunt for Agent 47, with three parties intent on eliminating him, as well as a shadowy agency. The narrative introduces Diana, who appears to be at odds with the agency and warns Agent 47 of the impending threat. However, Diana’s character is regrettably underdeveloped in the movie. From a fan’s perspective, an alternative storyline that had Agent 47 protecting Diana against the agency might have been more satisfying than the subplot involving the prostitute Nika. The latter, though initially introduced, ultimately serves as excess baggage, offering little to the overall plot, particularly in light of her failed romantic advances toward 47.

Outstanding Performances and Charismatic Chemistry

Hit Man shines in no small part due to the exceptional performances, with Glen Powell leading the way. Powell’s portrayal of both Gary and Ron is a tour de force, showcasing his inexhaustible charisma and infectious charm. This performance may well elevate him to major star status, as he breathes life into the characters and infuses the comedy with an unforgettable quality. The chemistry between Powell and Arjona is palpable, lending credibility to the narrative’s unexpected twists and turns.

Hit Man, the new movie co-written by Richard Linklater and Glen Powell, is officially acquired by Netflix in a $20 million deal.

The film got its international debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 5.

Author’s Rating: 7/10

In conclusion, Hit Man is a testament to the enduring appeal of classic humor, lighthearted storytelling, and compelling character exploration. Richard Linklater’s direction, along with the remarkable performances, successfully bridges the gap between cinematic adaptation and gaming nostalgia. While there are areas for improvement and a hint of nostalgia for “what could have been,” the film excels in its ability to entertain, making it a must-see for fans of all genres. With its blend of humor, emotion, and action, Hit Man proves that, even in the ever-evolving landscape of cinema, there’s always room for a modern classic with a twist.

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Renée Bourke

Renée has carried out many celebrity interviews for us from boybands to hanging backstage at showbiz parties. The Aussie stars acting credits include Home and Away + Across The Pond.


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