Is This Surprisingly Sexy Netflix Flick the Movie of Summer? (Spoiler: Yes)

It has a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes

hit man review universal
Matt Lankes/Netflix

It’s the dreaded weeknight relationship debate: But, honey, what should we watch? This is why you can only imagine my surprise when both me and my spouse pitched and agreed upon the same Netflix flick that had recently been generating quite a bit of buzz: Hit Man.

The film stars Glen Powell, who, I’ll admit, has been on my radar via films like Top Gun: Maverick, Everybody Wants Some and the more recent Anyone But You. Still, the headlines—like this one from the New York Times, which called Hit Man a “star-clinching turn for Powell”—increased my interest. My spouse, on the other hand, simply had checked the Rotten Tomatoes score: A 96 percent? He was all in.

So, we rented it. 

hit man madison and ron

The film, which BTW is directed by Richard Linklater—the Oscar-winning director behind films ranging from Boyhood to the Before Sunrise trilogy—is equal parts rom-com and crime-based thriller. Powell plays Gary Johnson, a philosophy professor who finds himself moonlighting as a faux hit man working on behalf of the police department to help nab criminals looking to bump off various people who got in their way. (It started out as a part-time job doing a bit of tech work.) But when Gary, who is nervous at first, discovers he’s quite good the job, he decides to put a bit more effort and charisma into it, researching his clients ahead of time in order to fulfill their individual fantasies of what they think a hit man should be. (Cue Powell’s star-making turn.)

Still, it’s all fun and games until—dressed as a sexy, confident hit man named Ron—he meets Madison (played by Adria Arjona), whose reasons for seeking out his services don’t sound all that off-base. It’s in that moment that the film takes a spicy (and thrilling) turn as Gary finds himself having to split his persona between two different versions of himself: His nerdy professor/police force side and the ultra-confident and seductive Ron.

Summer blockbusters? You don’t need them—not with this funny, edge-of-your-seat style film. Here are three more reasons to rent it this weekend, then re-watch it again and again.

hit man gary the red head

1. We Repeat, Glen Powell (That’s It, That’s the Reason)

Truly, his ability to play so many different versions of himself is uncanny and almost plays like a supercut/makeover montage in the film. Watching Powell—who co-wrote the film with Linklater (what can’t this man do?)—go from being a bandana-wearing bad guy with neck tattoos to a freckle-faced British man is not just fun, it’s captivating. It also makes him quite easy to root for, even when he’s doing unethical things. In fact, that’s the magic of this summer-feeling movie: Its success in getting you to root for the bad guy. But is he the bad guy? I don’t know, we’re still deciding. 

hit man ron and madison at a bar
Brian Roedel/Netflix

2. The Chemistry Between Ron and Madison Is White-Hot

Reader, there were a couple of moments while watching this film when I regretted watching it with my spouse, it got so racy. No, it’s not Bridgerton-level, but the intrigue! The seduction! The heat! Also, quite simply, the lack of trust that breeds a bit of humorous naughtiness on both sides: You’ll be guessing about Ron, er, Gary, and Madison’s romantic escapades until the very end. But before you write this off as a bit of a screwball comedy, let me say this: Hit Man also comes with surprising depth. Mainly, via Powell as he navigates his various identities while struggling to uncover the truest version of himself. Like I said, it’s white-hot.

hit man gary with a client
Brian Roedel/Netflix

3. It’s Based on a True Story

OK, not all the plot twists, but Powell’s character Gary Johnson was written based on a real guy who worked as a fake contract killer for the police, according to a Texas Monthly story by Skip Hollandsworth. (The real life Gary has since died.) And apparently, the bit in the film about Gary being a master of disguise is authentic. In an interview on, Linklater says: “The real Gary did slight disguises, but not to the extent that we see in the film. I was like, ‘Should we really do a Russian accent?’ But Glen just pushed all of that to the max and I love how it came out.”

Bottom Line

The number of times I said out loud to my husband, “I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next” made the whole thing (which clocks in at just under two hours, FYI) extra watchable.

Entertainment as of late feels quite centered on the reboot—or at the very least sticking with genres that are rinse, repeat. (Ahem, we’re talking to you Hollywood producers who think the success of last summer’s biggest blockbuster, Barbie, is centered around the fact that it was tied to toy.) 

Hit Man, on the other hand, draws its success from its inventiveness, but also its surprise. Movie-makers, if you’re listening, let’s follow this blockbuster-defying blueprint a bit more, please? 

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...