Hit Man (2023 film)

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Hit Man
Release poster
Directed byRichard Linklater
Screenplay by
Based on"Hit Man"
by Skip Hollandsworth[1]
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyShane F. Kelly
Edited bySandra Adair
Music byGraham Reynolds
Production
companies
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • September 5, 2023 (2023-09-05) (Venice)
  • May 24, 2024 (2024-05-24) (United States)
  • June 7, 2024 (2024-06-07) (Netflix)
Running time
115 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$8.8 million[3]
Box office$1 million[4]

Hit Man is a 2023 American romantic black comedy film produced and directed by Richard Linklater, who co-wrote the screenplay with Glen Powell, based on the 2001 Texas Monthly magazine article of the same name by Skip Hollandsworth. The film stars Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, Austin Amelio, and Retta, and follows an undercover New Orleans police contractor who poses as a reliable hitman as he tries to save a woman in need.

Hit Man premiered at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on September 5, 2023, and was released in select theaters in the United States on May 24, 2024, before its streaming debut by Netflix on June 7. The film received praise from critics.

Plot

Gary Johnson is a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of New Orleans, while also working undercover with the New Orleans Police Department to assist in undercover sting operations. When Jasper, a fellow cop who portrays fake hitmen to solicit murder-for-hire confessions and payments from “customers,” is suspended, Gary is unwillingly ushered into the role. Gary quickly finds himself to be a natural in garnering solicitations, going so far as to research suspects in advance and tailor a unique persona for each one.

Gary adopts the persona of a man named “Ron” to garner a solicitation from a discontented married woman named Madison, who is trying to have her abusive husband killed. While conversing with her, Gary quickly becomes both sympathetic and attracted to Madison; when Madison attempts to pay “Ron”, Gary refuses the money and suggests that Madison use that money to restart her life, much to the disappointment of Gary’s coworkers, Jasper, Claudette and Phil.

Gary begins a sexual relationship with Madison, but maintains his “Ron” persona with her. Madison reveals she owns a gun, and Gary shows her how to use it and instructs her to shoot someone in the heart should she need to kill. One night shortly after clubbing, Gary and Madison have a heated encounter with Ray, Madison’s ex-husband, which ends with Gary pulling a gun to back Ray off. Later that night, while outside at a restaurant, Gary and Madison encounter Jasper, who is suspicious of the two being together.

Furious with Madison, Ray attempts to have her killed, unknowingly contacting Gary. Unable to research his suspect, Gary walks into the encounter blind, and improvises having their conversation with backs to each other. However, he reveals himself to Ray at the end of their conversation; Ray rushes out and proclaims that he will kill her himself. Gary attempts to move Madison out of her house out of fear, but Madison does not believe Ray would do it.

Gary is later called into work to discuss Ray’s murder, much to Gary’s shock; after hearing that he was shot in the heart with bullets belonging to a gun like Madison’s, Gary deduces it was her, while his coworkers believes it was either her or a botched drug deal. Gary meets with Madison to discuss Ray’s murder, which she admits to; this prompts Gary to reveal to Madison that “Ron” and the hitman persona were made up, and that Gary was worried she would prefer the “Ron” to Gary.

After being kicked out by Madison, Gary returns to the police, who reveal their evidence on Madison is building after discovering Ray increased his life insurance policy before he died. Jasper suggests that Gary try to solicit a confession out of her using the “Ron” persona, to which he agrees. Gary arrives at her house, and pretends to interrogate Madison while giving her acting cues typed in on his phone. The two convince the police that Madison is innocent, but Jasper camps out and waits for Gary to return. Jealous that Gary took his job, Jasper demands Madison’s newly inherited money from Ray's life insurance policy. However, he quickly begins to pass out as Madison had drugged his drink, after which Gary suffocates him with a plastic bag and plans to stage Jasper's death as a suicide. The story jumps forward several years later, depicting Gary and Madison now happily married with two children.

Cast

  • Glen Powell as Gary Johnson, college professor and tech guy turned undercover mole
  • Adria Arjona as Madison Figueroa Masters, Gary's love-interest
  • Austin Amelio as Jasper, an undercover cop
  • Retta as Claudette, a police officer Gary works for
  • Sanjay Rao as Phil, a police officer Gary works for
  • Gralen Bryant Banks as Sergeant Hank
  • Molly Bernard as Alicia, Gary's ex-wife
  • Evan Holtzman as Ray, Madison's ex-husband

Production

Before the 2022 Cannes Film Market, Hit Man was announced as a new film for sale internationally. The screenplay was based on "Hit Man", a Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth, and written by Richard Linklater and Glen Powell, who would also direct and star, respectively. Adria Arjona would also star.[5] AGC Studios reported strong sales for international distribution at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.[6] Powell was joined by Austin Amelio, Retta, and Molly Bernard in October 2022.[7][8] Filming began in New Orleans in October 2022,[8][9] and production was completed that November.[10]

Release

Hit Man had its world premiere at the 80th Venice International Film Festival on September 5, 2023.[11] It was followed afterward by its North American premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) on September 11.[12] It also screened at the 2023 BFI London Film Festival on October 6, 2023.[13]

Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film for $20 million at TIFF, making it the largest film deal of the festival and of 2023, with plans for a theatrical release as well.[14] It was released in select theaters in the United States on May 24, 2024,[15] before streaming on Netflix starting on June 7, 2024.[16]

Reception

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 223 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The website's consensus reads: "A deceptively dark thriller that's also loaded with laughs, Hit Man is an outstanding showcase for leading man Glen Powell—and one of the most purely entertaining films of Richard Linklater's career."[17] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 82 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[18]

Writing for the The Washington Post, Ty Burr awarded the film 4 out of 4 stars, calling it "a blast of pure pleasure and one of the year’s best films."[19] In another positive review, Alissa Wilkinson of The New York Times described Hit Man as "romantic, sexy, hilarious, satisfying and a genuine star-clinching turn for Glen Powell."[20] Wilkinson, along with several other reviewers, remarked on the philosophical questions posed by the film. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that the multiple identities assumed by Gary allow both the character and the viewer to consider "the question of whether there is in fact a true 'self', an irreducible core of authentic identity that remains behind when all imitations or influences are removed".[21] Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com also described the movie as a "philosophical study of the human capacity to change".[22] However, Zachary Barnes of The Wall Street Journal noted a lack of subtlety, calling Gary's lectures in philosophy class "overly obvious as expressions of the movie’s themes".[23] Chris Evangelista of Slashfilm wrote a mixed review in which he described the film as "forgettable, and often uninspired", though he praised the performance of the actors.[24]

References

  1. ^ Hollandsworth, Skip (October 2001). "Hit Man". Texas Monthly. Archived from the original on June 3, 2024. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  2. ^ "Hit Man (15)". BBFC. February 22, 2024. Archived from the original on February 23, 2024. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  3. ^ "Fastlane NextGen: Initial Certification Search" (Type "Hitman" in the search box). Louisiana Economic Development. October 14, 2022. Archived from the original on June 15, 2020. Retrieved January 30, 2024.
  4. ^ "Hit Man (2024)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved June 7, 2024.
  5. ^ Ravindran, Manori (May 11, 2022). "Richard Linklater to Direct Hitman Starring Glen Powell and Adria Arjona, AGC International Selling in Cannes (Exclusive)". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on August 20, 2023. Retrieved May 11, 2022.
  6. ^ Kay, Jeremy (September 20, 2022). "AGC Studios reports strong TIFF pre-sales on 'Hitman', 'The Dating Game'". Screen Daily. Archived from the original on September 20, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  7. ^ Vlessing, Etan (October 3, 2022). "Austin Amelio Joins Richard Linklater's Hitman (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. PMRC. Archived from the original on December 9, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Chitwood, Adam (October 4, 2022). "Richard Linklater's Hitman Adds Retta, Molly Bernard as Filming Begins". TheWrap. Archived from the original on November 10, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  9. ^ Lutz, John (October 19, 2022). "Glen Powell Shares Set Image From Richard Linklater's Hitman". Collider. Archived from the original on July 24, 2023. Retrieved July 24, 2023.
  10. ^ "Productions - Film New Orleans". filmneworleans.org. City of New Orleans. Archived from the original on November 4, 2022. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  11. ^ Roxborough, Scott (July 25, 2023). "Venice Scores Star-Studded Lineup Despite Strikes (Full List)". The Hollywood Reporter. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on August 29, 2023. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  12. ^ "Hit Man". TIFF. Archived from the original on August 16, 2023. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  13. ^ Semlyen, Phil de (August 31, 2023). "This year's London Film Festival line-up has just been revealed". Time Out London. Retrieved June 9, 2024.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr (September 18, 2023). "Netflix Lands Richard Linklater-Helmed Hit Man For $20 Million Toronto Deal; Aggregate/AGC Studios Pic Stars Glen Powell & Adria Arjona". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on September 18, 2023. Retrieved September 18, 2023.
  15. ^ Bagchi, Soham (April 18, 2024). "'Hit Man': Release Date, Cast, Trailer, and Everything We Know About the Glen Powell Comedy". Collider. Archived from the original on May 3, 2024. Retrieved April 18, 2024.
  16. ^ Holub, Christian (January 22, 2024). "How Richard Linklater, Glen Powell's Hit Man deconstructs assassin movies — watch the first trailer". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on January 22, 2024. Retrieved January 22, 2024.
  17. ^ "Hit Man". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved June 13, 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  18. ^ "Hit Man". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved June 13, 2024.
  19. ^ Burr, Ty (May 21, 2024). "Linklater's 'Hit Man' deserves to be a hit, man". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  20. ^ Wilkinson, Alissa (May 23, 2024). "'Hit Man' Review: It's a Hit, Man". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (May 23, 2024). "Hit Man review – Richard Linklater's thoroughly entertaining fake-killer caper". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on June 7, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  22. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Hit Man movie review & film summary (2024) | Roger Ebert". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  23. ^ Barnes, Zachary (May 23, 2024). "'Hit Man' Review: Glen Powell's Parade of Killers". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on May 23, 2024. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  24. ^ Evangelista, Chris (May 24, 2024). "Hit Man Review: Glen Powell Charms His Way Through Richard Linklater's Light Comedy". SlashFilm. Archived from the original on May 24, 2024. Retrieved May 24, 2024.

External links