Netflix's Most Exciting Crime Thriller of the Year Reinvents the Assassin

Glen Powell and Richard Linklater reunite for Hit Man.

Glen Powell as Gary Johnson in Hit Man

As Glen Powell’s Gary Johnson tells us in Hit Man’s opening moments, the titular figure doesn’t actually exist outside of our collective imagination. It’s a concept, a character invented by noir and generations of paranoia. But that doesn’t make the idea any less appealing; one can get caught up in the fantasy no matter who you are, as Powell’s mild-mannered leading man soon discovers.

The Top Gun: Maverick alum co-wrote and stars in Hit Man alongside a frequent collaborator, director Richard Linklater. Based on an outrageously true story published in Texas Monthly in 2001, Hit Man follows the misadventures of a psychology professor who becomes the world’s best fake assassin. Check out the new trailer below.

Gary Johnson moonlights as an investigator for the cops, but when one mission forces him to go undercover and pose as a hitman to catch a wayward criminal, Johnson discovers just how good he is at faking it. Chalk it up to the years he’s spent studying projection and fantasy, or the years he’s spent denying his own ambitions. Either way, he starts creating one alter ego after another, all to assist the police in thwarting attempted murders.

Some are sillier than others — take Powell’s Patrick Bateman impression, or the dark-haired Russian Terminator that pops up briefly in the trailer — but each is designed to appeal to (and eventually entrap) those with murder on their minds. Between a jealous spouse, a skeevy CEO, and a woman on the run from an abusive partner, you’d be surprised how many people believe their problems can actually be solved by hiring a killer.

Hit Man is a thriller, comedy, and romance, and it balances its disparate elements perfectly.


Things get complicated with the introduction of a beautiful new “client” (Andor’s Adria Arjona), turning Linklater’s crime comedy into a screwball romance... and later, a steamy thriller. Powell and Arjona’s chemistry is crackling, invoking the crowdpleasers that used to dominate the multiplex. It’s a shame Hit Man won’t get a chance to do the same, as Netflix is prioritizing a limited theatrical release. That said, the film should be seen on the big screen with a big crowd. Hit Man is the perfect showcase for an actor like Powell and a director like Linklater, one that reminds us of what movies have been missing.

Hit Man opens in select theaters on May 24, and streams on Netflix June 7.

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