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Movie Monday: Hit Man

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Book By Book

In our hotel in Virginia this weekend (we were there for a wedding the next day), we only had access to Netflix and aren’t currently watching any TV shows on it, so we chose a new movie I’d heard about: Hit Man. This fun, twisty thriller/rom-com turned out to be very entertaining!

Glen Powell stars as Gary Johnson, a classic mild-mannered professor who lives alone with his two cats, Id and Ego. He teaches philosophy at the University of New Orleans. As a hobby, he has a talent for electronics, so he works part-time for the NOPD, helping them with electronic surveillance. Undercover cop Jasper, played by Austin Amelio, pretends to be a hit man, someone tries to hire him, the police get him on audio (and often, video) with Gary’s help, and they arrest the person. One day, Jasper gets suspended from the force just before one of these fake hit man appointments is to occur, and Detective Claudette, played by Retta, asks Gary to come out of the surveillance van and instead take Jasper’s place and pretend to be the killer-for-hire. It turns out that quiet, introverted Gary does a great job in the role, and he becomes the new fake hit man for future sting operations. Gary, teaching philosophy to uninterested undergrads in his day job, gets really into making up a different persona to fit each new prospective “client,” based on what he thinks they’ll expect. He uses wigs, facial hair, different clothes, and even fake teeth, and fully inhabits the character he’s pretending to be. His arrest rate speaks for itself. Then, a beautiful woman named Madison, played by Adria Arjona, tries to hire him to kill her husband. It’s clear he’s been controlling and abusive and Madison is scared, so Gary goes off-script. Instead of letting her clearly state that she wants to pay him to kill her husband (thus ensuring a conviction), Gary talks her out of it and convinces her to run away from him instead. His team is not happy with the outcome. When he met Madison, Gary was pretending to be Ron, an ultra-cool, handsome guy. They meet up again and are very attracted to each other. Though Gary knows it’s wrong, he really likes Madison, and they begin seeing each other. Besides, he kind of likes being Ron. How can this relationship end well, when it’s based on a lie? And how long can Gary keep his colleagues from finding out?

Crazy as it sounds, this movie is based on a real-life man named Gary Johnson who helped Houston police convict many people of hiring a contract killer over more than a decade. Of course, writer and director Richard Linklater (of Boyhood and the Before trilogy) gave the underlying story the Hollywood treatment here, with a lot of laughs, a hot romance, and some unexpected twists that didn’t happen in real life. It’s an intriguing premise for a movie, and Glen Powell is outstanding in the leading role, somehow easily transforming from nerdy teacher to slick criminal with dozens of different personas. This movie is filled with humor, from Gary’s many disguises to his wide range of clients (including a teen boy who wants to pay him in video games–really happened!) to the sting operations. It’s also very sexy, with Gary fully coming into his own as Ron, with Madison’s help. But there is also plenty of suspense and lots of surprising twists, especially after Gary and Madison get involved and are in danger of being found out. It was highly entertaining, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of fun!

Hit Man is a Netflix original movie and is currently available there.


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