Entertainment

Netflix’s “Hit Man”: Unmasking the Professor Who Fooled Them All

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The Professor and the Fake Hitman

Have you settled in to watch Richard Linklater’s new film, “Hit Man,” on Netflix? The action-comedy with a surprising twist might leave you wondering: is this outrageous story actually true?

The answer is both yes and no. While the film takes inspiration from the incredible life of Gary Johnson, it adds a healthy dose of Hollywood flair. Let’s delve into the real Gary Johnson, the man who became an undercover legend.

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Imagine a college professor by day, transforming into a contract killer by night. That was Gary Johnson’s reality. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Johnson, a man described as a “chameleon” by a prominent lawyer, became Houston’s most sought-after hitman – for the police, that is.

It all started in 1989 when a desperate woman approached a bail bondsman, seeking someone to eliminate her husband. The tip reached the police, and Johnson, with his talent for deception, became their undercover weapon.

Johnson’s brilliance lay in his ability to morph into whatever character the situation demanded. Wired for sound, he’d meet potential clients, convincing them he was the real deal. His success rate? Over sixty arrests.

Fact and Fiction in “Hit Man”

The Texas Monthly article that caught Linklater’s eye described Johnson as a “great performer,” a man who could convincingly inhabit any role. “Hit Man” captures this essence, with Glen Powell playing a Johnson who uses outrageous costumes and accents to fool his marks. However, the film takes some liberties.

NETFLIX

While Johnson did help a woman in an abusive situation, there’s no evidence of the romantic entanglement depicted in the film. The real Johnson’s personal life was more complex. Despite his outgoing personality, he was described as a loner, struggling with relationships.

Sadly, Gary Johnson passed away in 2022. Yet, his legacy lives on – not just in “Hit Man,” but as a testament to the extraordinary things people can do undercover, blurring the line between reality and performance.

So, the next time you watch “Hit Man,” remember: it’s based on a truth stranger than fiction – the story of a professor who became a legend in the world of undercover operations.

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