At the Venice Film Festival, the action-comedy film Hit Man directed by Richard Linklater was shown outside the competition program. The film is based on a true story published in 2001 in Texas Monthly magazine. In the story, mediocre psychology teacher Gary Johnson occupies a mediocre position in the New Orleans police. By luck, he gets a chance to prove himself in a new task: he begins to play the role of a killer in order to catch those who ordered the murders. In the guise of a mercenary, the hero is instantly transformed, but suddenly met love can destroy everything. Critics rated the film positively. Most experts praise the acting and skill of impersonation of the leading actor and co-screenwriter Glen Powell. The film will be released in Russia.
On Tuesday, September 5, the action-comedy film Hit Man by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, School of Rock) premiered out of competition at the 81st Venice Film Festival. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film became one of the favorites of the festival – after the screening, the audience applauded for six minutes.
The film is partly based on real events described in an article of the same name in the “True Crime” section of Texas Monthly magazine in 2001. This is the story of Gary Johnson, a full-time detective from Texas who pretended to be a hitman in order to catch those who ordered murders.
The story centers on psychology teacher and New Orleans police officer Gary Johnson. By luck, he starts working undercover. In ordinary life, Gary looks modest and ordinary. He’s a divorced simpleton with glasses and a nerd hairstyle. However, everything changes when the hero goes as a killer for the first time to meet with the intended customer. In an instant, he transforms into a strong, fearless and cruel man with the habits of a sociopath. For business, he disguises himself: he wears a beard, false scars, hats, wigs, and smokes cigars. Gary enjoys being able to play a tough killer. But everything changes when he is hired by the daring and beautiful Madison, who wants to “order” her evil husband. The characters fall in love with each other.
The main role in the film was played by Glen Powell, who previously took part in such major projects as “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Hidden Figures” and “Top Gun: Maverick”. The actor co-wrote the film with director Richard Linklater.
The cast also includes Adria Arjona (“True Detective,” “Shadow Six”), Molly Bernard (“Pay Another One,” “The Intern”), Richie Montgomery (“Catch Me If You Can,” “The Help”), Morgana Shaw (“Escape”, “I Love You Phillip Morris”) and other artists.
Film critics who attended the premiere of the action-comedy rated it positively – the project currently has a 100% “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator.
Leslie Felperin of The Hollywood Reporter calls the film a sexy dark comedy with a sly edge. She notes the realistic flirtation and passion between the two main characters.
“Given that the spark between the two leads is capable of restarting a nuclear power plant, viewers are likely to experience real pleasure from viewing this delightful film,” the critic writes.
Felperin praises Adria Arjona’s performance and believes that the role in this project will attract more attention to her and increase the quality of the images offered to her.
The expert also clarifies that in the film, viewers will see an amazing and provocative ending, in which the main character will have to make a difficult choice.
“Edited by Sandra Ader, with whom Linklater regularly collaborates, the film has a screwball comedy pace that, like many of Linklater’s films, is balanced by a boundless love for the actors,” Felperin writes. “The acting is presented with such love – from the main roles to petty criminals and extras – that the technical side of the process becomes almost invisible, it is only a means of embodying this amazing and not very believable story.”
Owen Gleiberman from Variety, in turn, was delighted with Powell’s transformations.
“The acting of leading man Glen Powell can be compared to the continuous work of an illusionist. Tall and slender, with a mop of honey-brown hair, Powell comes across as an atypical leading man, looking like a fusion of Guy Pearce and Ryan Gosling and smiling a slightly goofy smile that radiates pure sincerity,” says Gleiberman.
The film expert considers the film itself funny and full of delightful moments. However, in his opinion, the plot has some shortcomings and takes a long time to develop.
The comedy of the film was appreciated in a review on The Film Verdict by Alonso Durald. In his opinion, the film is a humorous, true crime chronicle. The film critic was also pleased with the skill of impersonation and talent of Glen Powell and the burning chemistry between the two main characters.
“Hit Man is a amiably grungy comedy from start to finish (you could call it Linklater’s Fletch) that has no shortage of punchy lines and memorable characters,” says Durald.
He also notes that during the end credits, the director decided to show a photo of the real Gary Johnson and point out the differences between the fictional picture and the story on which it is based.
Glen Powell also impressed film critic Hannah Strong. In her review of Little White Lies, she writes that in a time of too many formulaic franchises and sequels, figures like Powell and Linklater give her hope that cinema can still surprise.
“Powell is amazing in this role. He easily changes his identities as Gary improves in the art of becoming exactly the person his “clients” need. It’s very easy for viewers to connect with his affable personality, especially given the voice-over comments he makes in a cheerful voice,” Strong opined.
The author of the article calls the film itself “a breath of fresh air,” a delightful dark comedy story with a smart script and an excellent cast.
By the way, David Ehrlich from IndieWire also praised the script. In his opinion, the story turned out to be unexpected: “The plot is not as predictable as it seems at first glance.”
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Following his colleagues, Erlich was not stingy in his praise of the leading actor. With a sparkle in his eyes and dimples, Glen Powell is a natural actor and one of the most charismatic people on the planet, according to a film critic.
The director of the action comedy did not go unnoticed. The author of the review is confident that the film turned out to be of high quality thanks to the skill of Richard Linklater.
“In the hands of a less talented director, Hit Man would undoubtedly have seemed like a rather lackluster and disposable film. But Linklater is a true professional who manages to give depth to the tinsel present in the film,” says David Ehrlich.
Russian viewers will also be able to appreciate the new film: the Paradise film company bought the rights to distribute the film in the country. Presumably, you will be able to watch Hit Man in cinemas in January 2024.