Local Opinion Editorials

‘Hitman’ Is A Miss: At The Movies With Kasey

Hit Man was an instant hit for Netflix and I was excited to see it. After screening the film, however, I think it’s clear that its success comes down to the performance of Glen Powell, the “It Man” of the moment. I understand I am in the minority here, but I think while Hit Man superficially seems like a fun, good movie, the production does not stand up to much scrutiny.

In Hit Man, Gary Johnson (Glen Powell) is a philosophy teacher who moonlights for the New Orleans Police Department, helping with sting operations to catch people trying to hire a hitman. He stumbles into the role and finds that putting on different disguises and characters suits him, until he discovers a persona, Ron, and a client, Madison (Adria Arjona), he gets stuck on. When Madison wants to kill her husband, Ray (Evan Holtzman), “Ron” convinces her not to, but once they start a relationship, Gary gets caught in an increasingly high-stakes web of lies and murder. Retta, Austin Amelio, and Sanjay Rao also star as the undercover team at the police department.

Glen Powell shifting between Gary and Ron and finding some alchemy between the two is the best part of the film. He moves between many different personas, while still keeping Gary present, and it is fun to watch the process. Adria Arjona shows range as Madison, taking her from a frightened woman to a confident, dangerous one. The pair has plenty of chemistry, which peaks in a climactic scene in which “Ron” is wearing a wire and coaching Madison with the Notes app on his phone. As the duo plays off each other on multiple levels of conversation, the scene feels like an expertly choreographed dance. That chemistry and those performances, however, did not, for me, balance out how poorly the screenplay comes together.

Primarily, the parts of the story are not balanced well. The screenplay includes a frame narrative in which snippets of Gary’s philosophy class are interspersed throughout, with no build or impact on the narrative. Theoretically, the lectures comment on the action in the main plot, but they could be reserved only for the beginning and end of the film, to show Gary’s real life, and the story would lose nothing by removing the rest. Then, during the final scene, I checked how much time was left because I thought, wrongly, there must be another half hour. Hit Man runs almost two hours but somehow feels like they left off the third act. Where did all that time go? Sex scenes, probably. There’s a lot of rising action and then the plot rushes over a twist to a hasty conclusion.

Hit Man is a fun romcom with some clever bits, but it is ultimately banking on audiences liking Glen Powell enough to overlook how hollow and poorly written it is.
Hit Man was directed by Richard Linklater, who wrote the screenplay with Glen Powell based on a Texas Monthly article by Skip Hollandsworth. It runs 115 minutes and is rated R.

Remember Movie Pass? Back in 2017, when it was taking off, I had a Movie Pass account and I saw a decent number of movies, but I also know people who had the card and saw a movie every day. The company’s business model seemed impossible to sustain—one movie a day, every day, in any theater (except AMC) for $10 a month—so I was not surprised when Movie Pass crumbled. On Max, Movie Pass, Movie Crash tells the story of the company’s inception by founders Stacy Spikes and Hamet Watt and its fall, spurred on by SEC charges and lavish parties.

The documentary has a story that, like Movie Pass, is almost too much to believe. Well, maybe if we hadn’t already had the Fyre Festival and Tinder Swindler documentaries. Not only does it include interviews with the co-founders of what was supposed to be a serious business to revitalize the box office, but it also has an interview with one of the executives who drove Movie Pass into failure, Mitch Lowe. He does not admit to doing anything wrong, maybe because he is maniacal; maybe because he is still awaiting trial for fraud. At any rate, the contrast and tensions are fascinating.

Director Muta’Ali does a good job of pacing the interviews so that the audience can see the crisis looming, building suspense through infographics, archival footage, and clever editing. The vibe is fun, but the story gets into issues around race, tech journalism, and the cult of the CEO. I thought I knew why Movie Pass failed, but it turns out there was so much more than an unsustainable price point.

Movie Pass, Movie Crash was directed by Muta’Ali. It runs 96 minutes and is rated TV-14.

Kasey Butcher

Kasey Butcher

She is proud to be a Ft. Wayne native, a graduate of Homestead HS, Ball State University & Miami University. She became involved with journalism editor-in-chief for her high school magazine. She authors the "At The Movies with Kasey Butcher" review. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer