My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.

This week focuses on two new films, released during 2024.


HIT MAN (2024)

Rated: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Ironically, HIT MAN works because of Glen Powell and it also doesn’t work because of him.

The “leading man of the moment” is the reason to watch Richard Linklater’s latest. Powell has that movie star charisma that has been so lacking in talent the last two decades. He’s captivating for both men and women, an attractive but also sharp actor who stands out in a field where most male leads seem all the same. Yet, I think he’s wrong for this role. However good Powell is as Gary (and Ron), his movie star looks and presence work against the story. I don’t believe for a second that anyone at his school or his work would consider Powell anything but irresistible. He oozes charm. And the Clark Kent thing doesn’t work, especially since it takes all of ten minutes for us to see Powell turn it on with the first suspect. It’s like casting Tom Cruise as a dweeb. He’s a good actor and can do it damndest to act at it but he’ll never be it. Same goes for Powell who is mega-talented but truly a Ron, not a Gary. Scoot McNairy would have been right for this. Or Powell’s TOP GUN co-actor Lewis Pullman. Those choices would have added a dimension of surprise, of unpredictability to the character. It’s like having Michael Keaton play Batman. It’s not an obvious choice and that’s exactly why it works.

That isn’t the only problem with HIT MAN. Linklater and Powell’s script has two big issues: 1. It takes way too long to get to the meat and potatoes of the story. After establishing Gary’s new gig and how good he is at it then introducing us to the female lead in a fantastic first date scene, the writers waste time with more side scenarios when they should have jumped into the juicy stuff. The movie could lose at least 15 minutes and be better for it. The filmmakers love their writing (and themselves) too much to realize that less is more. 2. It’s set up for the perfect trap (no spoilers) but somehow misses the mark. After weaving what looks like an intricate plot, Linklater and Powell take an oddly lazy and anti-climactic way out. There are so many threads and interesting directions the final act could have taken, so many missed opportunities. After making me believe that they’d written the smartest thriller in a while, Linklater and Powell throw in the towel, going for the easy and forgettable ending.

Regardless of its flaws, HIT MAN proves one thing: Glen Powell can truly become the first new movie star we’ve had in a while. Let’s hope he doesn’t screw it up.

Watched on Netflix



Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

The trailers made this look like the Michael Haneke version of a slasher flick (or as others have pointed out, a Gus Van Sant take on FRIDAY THE 13TH). The aesthetic is there: long tracking shots, lingering images that don’t cut or move, making us sit/watch/wait. But at its core, IN A VIOLENT NATURE is a stupid horror movie with stupid script full of stupid characters who do nothing but stupid things.

The film is a true disappointment. After an intriguing first ten minutes, it becomes a victim of the genre’s worst qualities. After an absurdly long exposition moment at a campfire, I started to worry. For the next hour, I wondered why the critics fell all over themselves for this one? All of the characters react to the slasher in the most ridiculous ways, refusing to run or moving within his reach for no good reason. Whereas the style promises a disturbing experience, the deaths are over-done and silly, the gore working against the film rather than for it. Compare the hook death to the splitting scene in BONE TOMAHAWK: one is startling, terrifying while the other is absurd and indulgent. That’s how I felt about all the kills in this movie. None of them evoked an ounce of fear; none of them made me cringe or even wince. I didn’t care about the characters, not the “heroes” or the villain. And if all that wasn’t disappointing enough, the movie makes a bizarre perspective switch in its final act, a cheat isn’t earned or even well-thought through followed by one of the most painstaking extended dialog scenes I’ve seen in years.

The more I think about this film the less I like it.

Watched at Yakima Theaters in Yakima, WA.