Tag Archives: Glen Powell

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Hit Man

by George Wolf

What better way to have some breezy fun with our identity-challenged times than by embellishing the true-life story of one Gary Johnson?

Johnson was a phony hitman in Texas who would don different disguises working undercover work for the police. After a 2001 article in Texas Monthly profiled his adventures, various screenwriters toyed with the project. And though Johnson died in 2022, he can sleep well knowing Richard Linklater and Glen Powell’s Hit Man finally does him proud.

In the Linklater/Powell take, Johnson (Powell) is a mild-mannered psych professor at a New Orleans college who likes birding and jean shorts. A proficiency for tech gadgets lands him a moonlighting gig doing surveillance with the cops. But when their undercover man gets suspended for shady activities, Gary emerges from the van as “Ron,” fake hitman for hire.

Turns out, Gary has a knack for this new identity, and impresses his team with some suave method acting.

“Okay, Daniel Day!”

He also impresses Maddy (Adria Arjona from Morbius) who wants her abusive husband dead. “Ron” talks her out of the hit, they begin a steamy affair, then the husband turns up dead anyway.

And so the heat (the Body Heat?) is on.

Powell is all charm and charisma as he bounces from one persona to the next (the Patrick Bateman impression is particularly hilarious), Arjona is a captivating possible femme fatale, and the chemistry between them is undeniable.

Linklater’s direction is slick and well-paced, with a vibe that recalls a winning mix of Fletch whodunnit, Spy humor and Ocean’s 11 sex appeal. But Hitman still feels very much in-the-moment, with a repeated focus on how our point of view can shape our reality, and how our path to change starts by being honest with ourselves.

That’s right, Powell and Linklater find room for a serious message in Hit Man. But don’t worry, you’ll be having so much fun it won’t hurt a bit.

Forgotten Warriors

Devotion

by George Wolf

Both the title and the trailer hint at a formulaic, button-pushing war movie. Heck, seeing Glen Powell back in a cockpit might have Top Gun: Maverick fans hoping for a slice of Hangman’s family backstory.

Happily, neither pans out. Devotion does offer some thrilling air maneuvers, but reaches even greater heights with an inspiring, true-life account of two friends in a “forgotten war.”

Director J.D. Dillard (Sleight)and screenwriters Jake Crane and Jonathan Stewart bring hard truths and humanity to their adaptation of Adam Makos’s book detailing the bond between airmen on the eve of the Korean War.

Ensign Jesse Brown (Jonathan Majors) is the Navy’s first African American aviator. Lt. Tom Hudner (Powell), the “new guy,” is assigned to be his wingman. When Squadron 32 gets airborne, Dillard and cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt deliver the gripping goods. But away from the runway, two sterling performances and an understated script enable the film to bypass most of the usual cliches for an effective look at struggle, sacrifice and the need for true allies in the fight for equality.

Majors is so good, delivering his best work since The Last Black Man in San Francisco. His commanding physical presence comes easily, but the way Majors conveys the soul-deep pain beneath Jesse’s strong silence is never less than moving.

Powell is an impressive wingman here, as well, as a man of privilege who can’t ignore the contradictions between Jesse’s service and the treatment he so often endures.

So come for the aerial dogfights, you won’t be disappointed. But Devotion also serves up something special on the ground, and that’s worth saluting.