Why Hit Man director Richard Linklater finds assassins 'so bizarre'

"To me, I guess, it was always a comment on consumer culture."

Richard Linklater at the Hit Man Photo Call held at the Four Seasons Austin on May 17, 2024 in Austin, Texas (Photo by Chris Saucedo/Variety via Getty Images)
Richard Linklater directed the new Netflix crime caper Hit Man. (Chris Saucedo/Variety via Getty Images)

Hit Man director Richard Linklater has discussed the "bizarre" notion of contract killers as his buzzy new crime caper hits Netflix.

Lead by rising megastar Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) and Adria Arjona (Andor), the based-on-true-events Hit Man is just the latest entry in a thrilling cinematic category boasting In Bruges, No Country for Old Men, Collateral, Sicario, and Léon as some of its finest exports.

During an interview with The Independent, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker responsible for School of Rock and Boyhood weighed in on how shadowy agents of death are a symbol of "pop-culture myths" meeting real life.

"I had a lot of knowledge and interest in that world, because it was so bizarre," he said. "To me, I guess, it was always a comment on consumer culture. That you could just purchase the death of someone else so easily, like your groceries or something. But it's very common."

HIT MAN, from left: Glen Powell, Bryant Carroll, 2023. ph: Brian Roedel / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection
Glen Powell and Bryant Carroll in a scene from Hit Man. (Brian Roedel/Netflix/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Linklater continued by claiming his "darkest impulse after all these years" is that we as people are "empowered" by the idea of being able to hire someone to kill another.

"If things got bad. You know what I mean? It's a last resort."

Amazingly, Hit Man brings to life the crazy story of the late Gary Johnson, a supposedly quiet college professor who aided the Houston police department with more than 60 criminal convictions throughout the 1990s.

Working undercover, he portrayed a multitude of assassins as a way of ensnaring individuals seeking out second-hand vengeance. Whilst wired up, they paid him for his services, and then came the handcuffs.

Explaining himself in a Texas Monthly article published 23 years ago, Johnson told journalist Skip Hollandsworth that his job was to "assist people in their communication skills. That's all my job is — to help people open up, to get them to say what they really want, to reveal to me their deepest desires."

Hit Man is now streaming on Netflix.