‘Hit Man’s Happy Ending Has a Dark Hidden Meaning

‘Hit Man’s Happy Ending Has a Dark Hidden Meaning

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Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for Hit Man.


The big picture

  • Hit Man
    showcases the versatility and commanding presence of Glen Powell in a lead role, along with strong chemistry with co-star Adria Arjona.
  • The film explores deep philosophical themes about identity and ethics, challenging audiences to question their perceptions of morality.
  • The inside turn
    Hit Man
    it represents a turning point for the characters, leading to a complex and thought-provoking resolution with hidden meanings.


Glen Powell continues to prove his status as a movie star and his most recent role as Gary Johnson on Netflix Hit Man is not an exception. The film sees him collaborating with Richard Linklater once again after appearing in his sports comedy Everyone wants it!!But Hit Man sees him take the lead role, proving that he has all the ingredients to direct a film. Based on a (somewhat) true story, Hit Man follows a bogus contract killer and sees Glen Powell take on a series of roles under the guise of Gary. Powell manages to show his versatility and control of the character, especially as Ron, one of Gary's identities. His chemistry with love interest Madeline (Adria Arjona) is a huge aspect of the story and is vital to driving the philosophical thread that acts as the film's central thesis. Hit Man questions whether someone can completely change their personality and mixes genres to encourage the audience to question their ethics. His twist works to cement this idea and acts as the moment when Gary's character trajectory is set in motion.



“The opening scenes of Hit Man set up the ordinary life of Gary Johnson

The beginning of Hit Man it plays like a sharp comedy about a man going through the motions. Gary Johnson's life is purposely exaggerated as structured and routine. Her unglamorous lifestyle is emphasized, from the subtle, indistinguishable murmurs of her students to the single chair at her small dining table. He is a man who is satisfied with his solitary existence; he is not a loser as such but just a simple man. He represents compliance and conformity, which, later in the film, is used as a stark contrast to Ron. Even his side job as a police technician is played with a very mundane tone, showing that Gary doesn't dramatize his life. Everything is simple and tidy and he likes it that way.


How Hit Man is a somewhat true story, this first section of the film is important in setting up Gary Johnson's character and how he is able to successfully manipulate people into hiring him to kill someone. Gary has an innate ability to decipher what each client wants to hear and how they envision a hit man. His banal lifestyle is an important starting point to show how separate his outlandish characters are from his real-life persona. When he acts as a contract killer whose identities range from American PsychoPatrick Bateman to a Russian Monster: There is never any overlap with Gary's personality. The film creates a clear distinction initially. Since Gary only spends a short amount of time as each character, this is sustainable for him. However, when he spends long periods of time like Ron later in the film, the lines begin to blur and the separation is less defined.


Richard Linklater says the end of “Hit Man” was inevitable

Adria Arjona and Glen Powell sit across from each other in a restaurant as Richard Linklater directs, in Hit Man
Image via Netflix

Most of the Hit Man's The plot is a great what if. Everything after the moment Gary convinces Madeline not to kill her husband and start a new life is Linklater and Powell hypothesizing what would happen after that moment. When writing, as they began to raise the stakes of the story, Linklater stated that “the end came early in the writing process.” The most compelling character arc was Gary becoming the killer he spent most of the film's opening struggling to understand. When he actually starts talking to people who want to hire a contract killer, he struggles with ethics internally. Johnson's life is so devoid of passion that the intense feelings of hatred that often arise from love are something he is incapable of himself, or at least that's what he thinks.


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The transition from Gary to Ron is the inevitability that Linklater speaks of, how he becomes capable of so much passion under the guise of a different person. The film explains that when Gary is Ron it almost feels like an out-of-body experience, as his character is such a stark contrast to the Gary we meet at the start of the film. Gary describes Ron as a “doer” rather than a thinker. It cements him as a character in Gary's mind and makes the slow melding of the two before Ron finally takes control such a compelling trajectory to watch. Gary's interest in philosophy almost predestines this to happen, and the segments showing his teaching become even more meaningful when rewatched. His early descriptions of the internal struggle between human desire (which is called the Id in psychology terms) and moral responsibility (known as the Superego) are clearly represented by his two personas; Ron is his id and Gary is his superego. It explains how the Id and Superego merge to form the Ego, and for the first part of the film there is a balance between them. However, Linklater asks what would happen if the ID took over, and this acts as the film's thesis. Initially, Gary sees Ron as a fantasy, and his relationship with Madeline is separate from his “”real life”, but as the film progresses, Ron takes over.


The twist in 'Hit Man' is a turning point in the film

The climax of Hit Manwho sees Gary choke Jasper (Austin Amelio) with a plastic bag after Madeline has drugged him, works so well because it acts as a visual representation of Ron's control over Gary's personality. Ron is no longer a character; Gary has totally embodied it. It symbolizes to the audience that Gary is no longer the awkward college professor who still talks to his ex-girlfriend and lives alone with his cats. He's stronger and more ruthless, but most importantly, he's now a killer. Glen Powell is undeniably charismatic throughout the film, but unlike Gary, Ron's charm isn't endearing, it's a bit sinister; especially in how quickly he takes control of the situation and turns it into murder.


This transition is a stark contrast to Gary's previous mindset where he couldn't understand how someone could kill another person. Gary felt devoid of the intensity of passion in his worldly life. However, when he became Ron, he was freed and his animal instincts were unleashed. Spending time with Madeline and falling in love, he begins to feel a deep emotion and this love transfers to hatred when Madeline is in danger. When Gary becomes Ron, he becomes what he thought he could never be. One of the most memorable lines is when Madeline asks who Gary is. This question has a deeper existential weight for Gary himself, because as he spends more time as Ron, he may not know the answer.

Hit Man's happy ending has a hidden meaning


The final scene of the film, showing the perfect happy ending, may seem, on the surface, like the perfect resolution to the characters that Linklater has encouraged you to root for throughout the film. However, the whole ending is a facade. Madeline and Ron now play different characters and have changed their personalities to suit suburban life. They present themselves as ordinary, kind people who help out at their children's school. Apparently, they are living a fairy tale; all the challenges they faced during the duration of the movie are gone and now they can live a peaceful life. However, this is exactly how they want to be seen by society and their new characters deceive both the audience and their new community.


The tone is played comically, but the morality of his actions must be taken into account. As an audience, there should be an uneasy feeling about the perfection of his new life. It forces ethical questions about why you cheer for a couple of cold-hearted killers and how you've been designed to root for them. It all ties into the themes of Gary playing the character he thought his client already had in his head about what it was like to be a contract killer, and the themes of morality and manipulation that Linklater brings up throughout the film. Moreover, everything is done in such a cheerful tone that it defies genres, creation Hit Man a film like no other.

Hit Man is available to watch on Netflix in the US

Watch on Netflix



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