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Richard Linklater’s Hitman is study of complexities of the human brain

Richard Linklater’s Hitman is study of complexities of the human brain


Vikrant Parmar

From the cocky pilot of Top Gun 2: Maverick, actor Glen Powell metamorphoses into a hitman, albeit faux, in this comic caper that has a dark underbelly. Twisted functioning of the human brain, complex personalities that intertwine, love that is blind and attraction that is fatal; there is more to it than meets the eye in this just-short-of-two-hours fare, which impresses and delights in equal measure.

Film: Hit Man

Director: Richard Linklater

Cast: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, Austin Amelio, Retta, Sanjay Rao

Rating: ***

Gary Johnson (Powell) teaches a heady mix of psychology and philosophy to college students; quoting Nietzsche, he vouches, ‘The greatest enjoyment is to live dangerously’. And so he does; Gary moonlights as a fake ‘hitman’ with the New Orleans police department and a good one at that. A simple, humble man who lives with his two cats, Id and Ego (names inspired by Sigmund Freud’s philosophy), Gary turns into a sharp-eyed being as soon as he slips into the role of the hitman, Ron, well-nigh his repressed self, all the time believing that the concept of a hitman is a myth more real than reality!

Ron becomes a master of disguise; ‘I had the knack of being the person they needed me to be’. With eyes as sharp as gleaming steal and measured words, Ron helps cops nab those hiring contract killers; he becomes a veritable ‘undercover murder stopper’. Many are brought to book and some sneak through the legal process.

The plot meanders for a bit, till enters the sexy siren Madison Masters (Adria Arjona), who wants to get rid of her husband. Gary, in his avatar as the macho Ron, takes an instant liking for the femme fatale. He coaxes her to move on in life rather than hire a contract killer but their relationship gets complex, leading them into a whirlpool of guilt, love, morality and choice.

In between there is an ‘abusive’, ‘misogynist’ cop Jasper (Austin Amelio), who is on Ron’s trail ever since the former usurps his role and aces it. Amelio’s act and acting are both par excellence, as he drives the narrative to its stunning conclusion. Powell and Arjona share a chemistry that is at once raunchy and amiable; they light up the screen with their witty exchanges, never letting the plot get predictable.

Helmed by Richard Linklater, Hitman, streaming on Netflix, ‘is somewhat a true story, inspired by the life of Gary Johnson’. Willy-nilly, it becomes a thorough study of complexities of the human brain, machinations of twisted minds and how love becomes a potent potion that blinds even the sanest. As Gary goes about teaching what is how he wants it to be in life, he ends up becoming what he wants. ‘Make no mistake, there are some people who need killing’, says Gary aka Ron. Indeed and how!


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