Critics have been buzzing about Richard Linklater’s Hit Man since it premiered at festivals last year. A charming mix of screwball and noir, the film takes inspiration from the real-life story of Gary Johnson, a schoolteacher who for years moonlighted as a pretend hit man in Houston, helping local police entrap folks who would reach out to him to order a killing. Hit Man stars Glen Powell, who also wrote the script with Linklater, and it adds a sexy twist to the true tale. In the movie, Gary falls for one of his targets—a beautiful woman (played by Adria Arjona) who asks him to kill her abusive husband. A game of secrets, twists, and multiple identities follows, as dark and thrilling as it is hilarious. 

On today’s episode, Linklater joins Film Comment Editor Devika Girish to discuss the movie’s genesis, how it draws unexpectedly from his activism for criminal justice reform, his fascination with the flexibility of identity, and his underrated talent for writing great twists.