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Glen Powell: Is the Hit Man a Movie Star?

Glen Powell might be one of the most recognizable new faces in Hollywood. With Hit Man creating positive buzz, and other projects coming soon, will he be the next big movie star?

Glen Powell going undercover in Hit Man (2023). Credit: YouTube/Netflix
Glen Powell going undercover in Hit Man (2023). Credit: YouTube/Netflix

There’s a lot of discussion between critics, filmmakers, and moviegoers about if there are any modern-day movie stars. A lot of people considered movie stars like Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves are getting older, but there is a new crop of young actors who seem to connect with the masses. At the top of this list, in my opinion, should probably be Glen Powell!

Born in Austin, Texas, Powell’s career trajectory started when he was about 15. He had small roles, like in Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), and would gradually grow from there. There was Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation (2006), which kicked off a partnership (more on that later). He also appeared in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and got a leading role in Scream Queens (2015-2016).

Powell as "Hangman" in Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Credit: YouTube/Paramount Pictures
Powell as “Hangman” in Top Gun: Maverick (2022). Credit: YouTube/Paramount Pictures

On the Up and Up of Fame

After 2018’s rom-com Set it Up, more opportunities appeared before Powell, and one would turn out to be huge! He auditioned for Top Gun: Maverick (2022), the long-awaited sequel to Top Gun (1986). His character of “Hangman,” a Navy pilot who’s adversarial towards Miles Teller’s Rooster, got a lot of positive attention. The movie grossed over $1 billion at the box office and seemed to make people yearn for the theatrical experience.

Powell (left) and Sydney Sweeney doing an intro for the Anyone but You (2023) trailer. Credit: YouTube/Sony Pictures Entertainment
Powell (left) and Sydney Sweeney doing an intro for the Anyone but You (2023) trailer. Credit: YouTube/Sony Pictures Entertainment

The next big hit would come with 2023’s Anyone but You, co-starring Sydney Sweeney. Starring as two people who had a falling out, but then decide to act like a couple at a destination wedding, the two stars drew many to the theaters once again. Despite mixed reviews, it proved there is still a market for rom-coms to go theatrical. And now, Glen Powell has chosen a new angle to channel his charisma: fake hitman!

Glen Powell’s Range in Hit Man

Now, technically speaking, Hit Man came out in 2023. However, that was technically its debut at the Venice Film Festival. It took until 2024 to give it a limited theatrical release before its June 7th debut on Netflix. The positive buzz it garnered during its time in Venice made everyone eager to see it. After catching it on Netflix, I can say that for me, Hit Man lives up to the hype!

Gary Johnson about to meet a client. Credit: YouTube/Netflix
Gary Johnson about to meet a client. Credit: YouTube/Netflix

The movie has a lot to like about it. I wish it had a larger theatrical release, but if you have Netflix, it’s a really fun two hours! It’s directed by Richard Linklater, who helped Powell throughout his career. He has a knack for pleasing visuals, so the film knows how to capture the intimacy of conversation and romance.

The script, written by Linklater and Powell himself, is based on a true story written by Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly. The story is about a professor named Gary Johnson, who posed as a hitman for hire to capture criminals for the police. Obviously, story elements used in the movie are heightened for drama and stakes, but it’s a fascinating story that lends itself to humor, mystery, and the topic of identity.

Adria Arjona (left) being protected by Powell. Credit: YouTube/Netflix
Adria Arjona (left) being protected by Powell. Credit: YouTube/Netflix

And on that note, let’s talk about Glen Powell. He plays Gary Johnson, and he’s so good! From the opening scene as Gary, he sells you as an enthusiastic yet closed-off professor. When he becomes an undercover hitman for the police, Powell commands the screen even more! You know he doesn’t kill people for a living, but you believe he could. He makes the lie intoxicating, using several disguises, and can be appropriately hilarious or serious.

More importantly, Powell shows you the cracks in a person as a lie escalates out of control. Under the persona of Ron, he strikes up a romance with a client named Madison (Adria Arjona). Their romantic chemistry is some of the best in recent memory, but Madison has her own desires and secrets, and it risks Gary losing everything as he tries to grapple with who he is. Powell’s struggle with reality in this movie, whether subtle or obvious, is really compelling to watch.

His next movie? Twisters (2024). Credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures
His next movie? Twisters (2024). Credit: YouTube/Universal Pictures

What is Glen Powell’s Future in Hollywood?

Powell’s 2024 has been busy besides the success of Hit Man. Just before it hit Netflix, he produced a documentary shot in IMAX called The Blue Angels. It follows the titular Navy and Marine pilot group that does large flight demonstrations across the U.S. If that sounds up your alley, you can now find it on Amazon Prime. And in July, he’ll star in Twisters, a legacy sequel to the classic 1996 Twister. Funny how he’ll be a part of two legacy sequels!

He also has other projects lined up, including being attached to a remake of 1987’s The Running Man and starring, producing, and co-writing the pilot of a Hulu series called Chad Powers. The show is described as a sports comedy about a college football quarterback who disguises himself to play for another team after some bad behavior. So, it’s safe to say Powell will be busy!

So, is Glen Powell a movie star? Maybe not yet, but I think he’s certainly on the cusp. Firstly, the dude is charismatic as hell. He also has range. He can be a cocky, arrogant pilot or a normal man caught in a lie. He’ll do action movies, but also do rom-coms. Despite Netflix’s acquisition of Hit Man, he seems focused on the theatrical experience. He involves himself in writing and producing projects, which shows he understands filmmaking from different points of view.

Powell isn’t the only actor doing stuff like this. People like Zendaya, Sydney Sweeney, Timothée Chalamet, and Austin Butler also put themselves out there in a variety of roles. But as I watch all these movies, only one seems to feel like a movie star of old. And that’s Glen Powell!

Written By

Hi, my name is J.D., and I'm a writer here at TrillMag, and as far back as I can remember, I've loved talking and writing about movies, TV, and the general entertainment industry. I hope to cover some current trends, and also recommend some things you might've overlooked!

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