July 22, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Film Review: Hit Man

FILM REVIEW
Hit Man
Rated R
115 Minutes
Limited run in theatres May 24th – June 7th, Released June 7th on Netflix

Based on a true story detailed in a Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth in 2001, Hit Man follows unassuming psychology and philosophy professor Gary Johnson’s secret life as a decoy “hit man” for the Houston Police Department in their efforts to avert murders before they happen. Yes, Johnson was a real person and worked for the department for many years in that capacity. This movie changes the setting from Houston to New Orleans purely for location cost reasons, and that setting works fine for the story. Johnson used many aliases to trick would-be murderers into confessing their plan to hire an assassin. The real-life Johnson’s life was more dangerous, chaotic, and lonely than depicted in this romantic comedy starring Glen Powell and Adria Arjona. 

He lived alone with his two cats while working his day job as a professor and nights as a police operative. In one incident, the real Johnson was shot in the leg, and in another, two of his targets began fighting and shooting at one another in front of him. He also handled high-profile cases, one involving a powerful Texas Republican official. In another of his cases, a teenage genius gamer wanted a classmate killed out of jealousy over a girl. 

He also did rescue a woman from an abusive relationship, although he referred her to a shelter and did not become personally involved with her as is depicted in the film. Decidedly, he was a loner, never developing relationships with his targets, as his background in psychology made him wary of relationships. This movie focuses on the more entertaining parts of his career and adds probably more humor than surrounded in his daily life. Johnson knew about the production of the movie but unfortunately passed away in 2022, before the film was completed, having succeeded in preventing many murders in his lifetime.

Powell and director Richard Linklater co-wrote and co-produced the script for the film. After playing smaller roles in film since 2012 and being cast as one of the crew rather than the second lead in Top Gun: Maverick, Powell is forging ahead with his career. This is a tour de force role for him, playing this character with a multitude of colorful aliases, and Powell makes the most of them with great charisma and comedic timing.

Arjona is sexy and funny in the romantic lead opposite Powell. She is the daughter of Guatemalan singer/songwriter/actor Ricardo Arjona and a Puerto Rican mother. She was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Mexico City, and she often accompanied her dad on tour. Eventually, her family settled in Miami. She moved to New York at the age of 18 to pursue acting and has played key characters on American TV series such as Person of Interest, True Detective, and Emerald City since 2011. 

The story moves well, and the location of New Orleans adds a richness to the environment, as does the music. Hitman is a genuine “Netflix and Chill” movie.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com

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