Hit Man: All the Famous Killer Easter Eggs in New Glen Powell Movie

All pie is good pie, but not all the disguises that Glen Powell adopts in Hit Man are from the usual sources. We trace the origins of every hired killer he portrays.

Hit Man. (L-R) Glen Powell as Gary Johnson and Jo-Ann Robinson as Society Lady in Hit Man. Cr. Brian Roedel/Netflix © 2024
Photo: Brian Roedel/Netflix

This article contains spoilers for Hit Man.

“People are disappointed when they learn that hit men don’t really exist,” explains Gary Johnson. That might be a surprising statement given that it occurs early on in a movie called Hit Man. Throughout the film, Gary (Glen Powell) dons different disguises to meet with people who want to pay him money (or video games or boats) to kill people. But then again, it’s all a ruse, a police sting operation that mild-mannered teacher Gary does as a side gig.

As Gary explains, his job is to become the type of hitman that potential criminals imagine exists, so that he can embody that look and lure them into a state of safety. As smart as Gary certainly is, he doesn’t create these identities out of nothing. Rather he’s riffing on hired killers from pop culture history, which gives Powell a chance to have fun playing different characters and gives director Richard Linklater the opportunity to riff on other genres.


Gary gets thrown into the job when the usual decoy Jasper (Austin Amelio) gets pulled off duty, so he doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare Billy, the “killer” who meets with Craig (Mike Markoff). Thus Billy doesn’t have an elaborate costume or accent. Instead he just has attitude and professionalism. Billy is the standard issue, generic hit man, the type of guy that’s been a pop culture staple from Alain Delon steely-eyed loner in Le Samouraï (1967) to John Wick. He’s professional, he’s to the point, and he has no concern for emotion. It might feel a bit obvious, but Billy did enough to fool Craig.

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Walt Feels Taken

We don’t see much of Gary’s interaction with Walt (Bryant Carroll), the typical “Back the Blue” supporter who wants to break the law, nor do we get a name for that killer. However, as Gary scrolls through his well-populated Facebook page, we hear Walt’s message. Walt gives Gary the signal phrase to let him know he wants an assassin: “Sounds like you got a particular set of skills or whatnot.” “A particular set of skills” comes from Liam Neeson‘s CIA agent in Taken from 2008. He delivers the line after scary foreigners kidnap his daughter (not the greatest politics on this one), who pick up the cell phone that she dropped. Gary doesn’t adopt Neeson’s lingering brogue, nor does he even remove his glasses for the part. But the dark coat he dons while meeting Walt does at least suggest Neeson’s elder killer.

Isaac and a Tarantino Wannabe

Hoping to build some buzz for his upcoming album, the rapper Isaac (Martin Bradford) engages a hit man to kill his rival Rob49. To meet Isaac’s expectations, Gary stains his teeth and cops a Boston accent. There’s no one clear source to Gary’s get-up for Isaac. Rather he’s the descendent of the edgy crime movies that flooded theaters and video stores after Pulp Fiction in 1994. There’s a little bit of Gary Oldman‘s Drexl from True Romance there (which is pre-Pulp Fiction, but still), a lot of central duo of The Boondocks Saints, and any other too cool for school baddie from 8 Heads in a Duffel Big, The Suicide Kings, and other Tarantino knock offs.

Rita Gets Her Own American Psycho

When Gary arrives at a motel to meet Rita (Kate Adair), he sports slicked-back hair, a well-tailored power suit, and a haughty attitude. This character takes great pleasure in mansplaining to Rita, going over minute details with a condescension that looks to her like professionalism. It’s surprising that Gary doesn’t toss a business card to Rita, since he’s 100 percent channeling Patrick Bateman, the maybe serial killer and absolute yuppie played by Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000). Maybe Powell got tips for the character while working with Tom Cruise on Top Gun: Maverick, since Bale based his Bateman on Cruise.

Joe Needs a Jackal

To match the sense of propriety that drives Joe (Richard Robichaux) to order a hit on his ex-wife, Gary becomes a soft-spoken Englishman, dressed in ’70s yellow. The character seems like someone who would belong in a movie by Linklater’s fellow Texan, Wes Anderson, but he seems at least partially based on Edward Fox’s polite killer in 1973’s The Day of the Jackal. Directed by Fred Zinnemann and written by Kenneth Ross, adapting the novel by Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal follows an attempted assassination of French president Charles de Gaulle. As the Jackal, Fox keeps calm and polite, his brutal profession belied by his impeccable manners.

With that said, it’s worth also noting that the exact cadence of Powell’s line-readings, as well as his ginger mop top, seems to suggest another completely unrelated influence: Could he be doing Tilda Swinton, English actress extraordinaire? While Swinton is very much a chameleon, she has played more than a few characters with exacting mannerisms and pronunciations. Also her appearance in the aforementioned Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom looks awfully familiar.

Tammi Orders a White Russian

Gary’s disguise for Tammi (Morgana Shaw), who can offer only a boat in exchange for the death of her husband, could be drawn from any number of Redbox thrillers and Geezer Teasers. Wading through the New Orleans heat while wrapped in black leather, the stub of a cigar poking through his stringy black hair, Gary adopts a Russian accent to growl out his responses. There’s a little bit of Sergei (Chris Ashworth) from The Wire‘s second season, who boasts about cutting off heads and hands of his victims. However, the stoic Russian is more directly pulled from gritty action flicks such as John Wick, Red Sparrow, and Eastern Promises. Also Boris Badenov from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

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Society Lady Wants a Sap

As with Isaac, the society lady who wants to prevent her ex-husband from taking her nice house (Jo-Ann Robinson) doesn’t need Gary to take on a specific persona. Instead Gary becomes Bruno, dimwitted California pool boy who seems eager to do the society lady’s dirty work in every sense. The whole “rich lady with her pool cleaner” is a long-carried pop culture trope, something common to soap operas and romance novels. It’s a variation of the old femme fatale concept from hardboiled fiction and noir films such as Double Indemnity, in which a seductive woman leads a foolish man into crime. Furthermore, the trope has a ring of truth to it, as seen in the recent scandal involving conservative religious leader Jerry Falwell Jr., which has become the subject of Lifetime movies. In short, Bruno the Pool Boy comes directly from the sort of media society ladies consume.

Monte Gets Played

Apropos of a kid who offers PlayStation 5 games as payment, Gary takes on the hardened look of a video game protagonist to meet with “future school shooter” Monte (Jonas Lerway). Gary gives himself scars and neck tattoo to match his leather jacket and growling persona. Perhaps the best bit is the heart of gold Gary finds in his character. Sure, he might just be trying to save a young man from a lifetime of regret, but such morality is common in dark-edged heroes of entertainment for adolescents. Think the Punisher and Wolverine from Marvel Comics, half the protagonists of the Grand Theft Auto series, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, and, of course, any number of assassins from Assassins Creed.

Madison Finds a Movie Star

And then there’s Ron, the guy Gary becomes with his love interest Madison (Adria Arjona). At first, Gary bases Ron on the effortless cool that Brad Pitt brings to Jackie Cogan in 2012’s Killing Them Softly. But as soon as Madison flirts with him, the facade drops and Ron becomes… well, standard issue Glen Powell. He’s cool and charming and playful, everything that makes Powell such an exciting screen presence. That’s a good thing too, because Ron and Madison’s romance takes up the middle of the film and the romance is palpable. Sure, Ron drops back into Jackie Cogan mode to intimidate Madison’s ex-husband Ray (Evan Holtzman), but most the time, he’s just Glen Powell. And we love him for it.

Hit Man is now streaming on Netflix.