5 best movies like 'Hit Man' to watch right now

Glen Powell as Gary Johnson in "Hit Man" streaming on Netflix from June 7
(Image credit: Netflix)

Since premiering at the Venice International Film Festival last September, Richard Linklater’s “Hit Man” has been racking up rave reviews from critics, currently standing at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. After playing at major film festivals and in limited theatrical release, “Hit Man” is now streaming on Netflix, and TG’s Rory Mellon called it “the best original movie the streaming service has offered for a long time.”

Where to stream "Hit Man"

"Hit Man" is streaming on Netflix

Based loosely on a Texas Monthly article about a real-life undercover operative, “Hit Man” stars Glen Powell as Gary Johnson, a seemingly milquetoast college professor who moonlights for the police department, posing as a hitman in undercover stings. His life gets complicated when he falls for Maddy (Adria Arjona), one of his murder-for-hire suspects. It’s a clever, energetic and often sexy comedy with a dark edge. Here are five movies with similar vibes to check out after “Hit Man.”

'Bernie'

Linklater’s previous collaboration with Texas Monthly writer Skip Hollandsworth is another breezy comedic take on an oddball Southern true crime story. This one keeps closer to the facts, recounting the unlikely relationship between mortician Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) and eccentric, rich widow Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) in a Texas town. 

Black gives one of his best performances as the sweet but troubled Bernie, who becomes Marjorie’s only companion after she drives away everyone else in her life. Marjorie eventually demands too much of Bernie, who murders her and attempts to cover up his crime. Linklater captures the quirks of a small town where many residents support the generous, affable Bernie despite what he’s done, much to the frustration of the local district attorney (Matthew McConaughey). Linklater delivers macabre humor just by sticking to the bizarre truth.

Watch on Prime Video

'Grosse Pointe Blank'

Unlike Gary Johnson, Martin Q. Blank (John Cusack) is an actual hitman, but both are dealing with similar existential crises at turning points in their lives. For Martin, that’s represented by his 10-year high school reunion in his suburban Michigan hometown. He mixes business with pleasure, attending the reunion while also working on a job to take out a federal witness, and fending off a hostile competitor (Dan Aykroyd).

When Martin reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), he opens himself back up to romance, which is inconvenient when multiple people are trying to kill him. Cusack and Driver have wonderful chemistry, and director George Armitage keeps the tone light and fun amid the violence. “Grosse Pointe Blank” is an affectionate tribute to the kind of teen movies Cusack starred in when he was younger, from a refreshingly twisted perspective.

Rent/buy at Apple or Amazon

'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'

Robert Downey Jr. plays a thief who’s mistaken for an actor and then mistaken for a detective in Shane Black’s entertainingly labyrinthine noir comedy. It’s a buddy-cop action movie featuring Downey’s Harry Lockhart teaming up with a private investigator known as Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), as both get caught up in an elaborate conspiracy involving a retired actor and a disputed inheritance. Harry also connects with Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), a former crush who’s searching for her sister’s killer.

Black constructs a twist-filled mystery punctuated with funny, self-referential jokes, often about the nature of detective movies themselves. Like Gary Johnson, Harry finds himself balancing multiple identities, which ultimately allows him to find his true self. Downey and Kilmer have great chemistry as mismatched partners, and Monaghan nearly steals the movie as a charming mix of damsel in distress and femme fatale.

Rent/buy at Amazon or Apple

'The Kid Detective'

What happens when someone like Encyclopedia Brown or one of the Hardy Boys grows up, but can’t let go of solving mysteries? That’s the surprisingly rewarding question answered by writer-director Evan Morgan’s darkly funny thriller, starring Adam Brody as onetime child genius Abe Applebaum. Now in his early 30s, Abe is already washed up, attempting to run a detective agency in a town where no one takes him seriously.

When he’s hired by teenager Caroline (Sophie Nélisse) to solve her boyfriend’s murder, he sees it as a chance for redemption, but the case just leads him into more disturbing, traumatizing experiences. Morgan balances some heavy material with the goofy tone of a middle-grade mystery novel, making “The Kid Detective” a unique, stylized take on two different crime subgenres.

Watch on Starz

'Double Indemnity'

While “Hit Man” never fully embraces film noir, it owes a lot to vintage Hollywood, and Billy Wilder’s classic noir also features a pair of lovers thrown together by happenstance, who launch a scheme to escape the forces aligned against them. Things don’t turn out nearly as well for insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) as they do for Gary, since he begins the movie dying of a gunshot wound before recounting how he ended up that way.

It all starts when he meets housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), who convinces him to help her in a plot to murder her husband and collect the insurance money. Of course, the plan soon unravels, and Phyllis’ allure clouds Walter’s judgment. “Double Indemnity” is hard-boiled and clear-eyed, with sharp writing and two compelling central performances that make every disastrous decision convincing.

Rent/buy at Amazon or Apple

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Josh Bell
Writer

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.