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Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen 
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Post Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
As I was watching the problematic third act of The Bourne Legacy yesterday, I came up with the idea for this thread. For you see, the Bourne Legacy features a truly undistinctive assassin. He's the Japanese actor from Predators, and he's only introduced in the last twenty minutes but they quickly try to set him up as a highly-skilled killer. Unfortunately, he's Blandy McBlanderson and he largely lets his sunglasses do the menacing and acting for him. Pitiful.

So instead I started coming up with my favorite movie assassins/hitmen. Here's what I've got.
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Despite his pageboy haircut and slow, quiet speech (or perhaps because of them) Anton Chigurh may be one of the most menacing and singular assassins ever committed to film. Whatever faults I have with the film have nothing to do with this terrific character/performance.

John Malkovich in In the Line of Fire. Malkovich got an Oscar nomination for this role, which is a notably awesome decision by the Academy, who too often ignore thrillers. His Mitch Leary is very well-essayed. He may well be insane in the strictest sense of the word, but he's not an out-and-out psychopath. He's clearly a man who has just slipped past the edge, and mainly manages to keep his rage in check.

Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal. Completely apolitical, undeveloped (on purpose) and without personality, the Jackal is a complete cipher. He's smart, he's a clever planner, and he's for hire. That's all we know about him about five minutes in, and despite the fact that the movie never really leaves his side, that's all we know about him at the end.

Arnold Schwarzenneger in Terminator . Robert Patrick deserves a lot of credit for his performance as the T-1000 in the sequel, but I'll go with Ah-nold's role in the original. I think Terminator gets lost in the shuffle of buffoonish, cartoony action movies of the 80s when in fact it's really rather grimy and down to earth. There's a reason the nightclub is called Tech-noir -- Cameron is going for the mean streets of the 50s rather than a comic book universe. And Arnold's performance is a great part of that. He's a killer of the night, with his massive physique, red eyes and uncompromising nature. And there's a reason the film made him a star.

Joel Edgerton in The Square. Unlike many others on this list, who get on for menace, Edgerton's Billy is so memorable
because of how real his character seems. Most movie hitmen seem to live for killing and have few other personality traits. Billy, on the other hand, has a girlfriend he clearly cares deeply about (even though she's not quite right in the head), modest digs, etc. And so he helps keep The Square grounded firmly in reality, adding greatly to the final act.

What else belongs on this list?

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:14 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Bruce Willis in the Jackal remake, stone cold, calculated and ruthless.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:29 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
My favorite was Eastwood in Unforgiven. A bizarre creation of a redeemed and sympathetic man from a background of total viciousness. Suffers a "slight" relapse after wife's compelling influence fades just a bit.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
For me, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men is right up there. What makes him chilling as a ruthless killer is the twisted sense of honor that he has which is of course displayed in his propensity for getting potential victims to flip a coin for their lives, as demonstrated in the gas station scene.

Other hit-people that I found interesting:

- Dakota the hitwoman from Formula 51 (The 51st State) as played by Emily Mortimer. She is much like Leon from The Professional in that her work is due to obligations that she owes to her employer.
- Speaking of which, who can forget Leon the hitman from The Professional (Leon)? A ruthless and efficient kiler with a sense of naivete is a pretty fresh take on this character type, and his relationship with young Matilda was very interesting dynamic.
- Martin Blank (John Cusack) in Grosse Pointe Blank was a humorous example of a hitman with angst served by a quirky secretary played by his sister Joan. Blank's rival in that film, played by Dan Ackroyd, gets an honorable mention in the humor department.
- Vincent (Collateral) was a great example of the ex-Special Forces type who drifted into contract killing work following a military career, and his philosophical musings (mostly nihilistic, of course) provided the interesting moments with Jamie Foxx between hits.
- Another of my favorites: the eponymous character from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai played by Forest Whitaker- his take on the code of Bushido and his role as a retainer to his Mafia employer was another fresh take on the genre IMO.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:27 pm
Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
JamesKunz wrote:
Edward Fox in The Day of the Jackal. Completely apolitical, undeveloped (on purpose) and without personality, the Jackal is a complete cipher. He's smart, he's a clever planner, and he's for hire. That's all we know about him about five minutes in, and despite the fact that the movie never really leaves his side, that's all we know about him at the end.


That would be my pick as well. It's my favourite Conspiracy/ Assassination Thriller and Edward Fox's Jackal is one of the reasons. He's fetchingly competent but still prone to make mistakes.

Vexer wrote:
Bruce Willis in the Jackal remake, stone cold, calculated and ruthless.


Bruce Willis, on the other hand, is only worth watching (well, he's not, really) because he looks supremely silly in his disguises, in my opinion.

I like Jean Reno in Luc Besson's "Léon", too. And Max von Sydow's killer in "Three Days of the Condor".


Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:27 pm
Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
John Lithgow in Blow Out always gave me the creeps. And, as someone else mentioned in the midst of all the Bourne mania, Clive Owen's role as the assassin in The Bourne Identity has quite a bit of impact for all its briefness.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:33 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Ken wrote:
John Lithgow in Blow Out always gave me the creeps. And, as someone else mentioned in the midst of all the Bourne mania, Clive Owen's role as the assassin in The Bourne Identity has quite a bit of impact for all its briefness.


Agreed on Clive Owen. I thought of him when angry during Bourne Legacy.

Also worth mentioning -- Pierce Brosnan in The Matador. Wonderfully different from his usual screen persona. Also Chiwetel Ejiofor's character in Serenity. He kills because he believes in what he's doing (odd for movie assassins) even though he knows the world he believes he's fighting for has no room for him in it. The best part of the movie, oddly enough, thus wasn't from the show.

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:49 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Tom Hanks and Jude Law's characters in Road to Perdition
Mr. Smith from The Matrix
Charles Bronson's character in The Mechanic
The Nihilists from The Big Lebowski


Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:02 pm
Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Here's some more for me:

John and Jane from Mr. And Mrs. Smith
Jason Statham in The Mechanic remake
Terrence Stamp in The Hit
Charles Bronson in The Evil That Men Do


Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:11 pm
Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction


Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:39 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Although the movie wasn't very good, and the hitman wasn't exactly memorable, someone might as well throw out Jay from Kill List. He's ruthless, as all hitmen are wont to be, but he's also got something so special that before he brutally murders anyone, he always receives a thank you.

And not just a polite "thanks". Prior to hammering a man's skull in, the victim has tears of joy for what he's about to receive and goes on at great length at how honored he is to be murdered by Jay.

It's creepy.

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:42 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Many of the good ones have been mentioned already.

Frank Sinatra in Suddenly.
Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate.
Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone (one time the attempted assassin was the good guy).
Several actors in Hero.
Josh Brolin in Milk.
Alain Delon, Le Samourai.
David Bowie in Into the Night.

Also note Hiroyuki Sanada in The Twilight Samurai, who is sent to kill a samurai who refused to commit suicide, although calling him a hitman is a simplification.

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:55 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Mark III wrote:
Although the movie wasn't very good, and the hitman wasn't exactly memorable, someone might as well throw out Jay from Kill List.


You see, after all these months after seeing it, I'm still not sure what to think about Kill List. I think Roger Ebert summed it up best when he says "It's baffling and goofy, blood-soaked and not boring. That it's well-made adds to the confusion; it feels like a better film than it turns out to be." But I certainly agree it's an excellent choice, and out of all the films I've seen this year, Kill List is possibly the most memorable (and unsettling) experience, one that's stuck with me longer than most of the big-budget summer movies.

I'm surprised no mention of In Bruges. Colin Farrell delivers probably his best performance, and Brendan Gleeson provides real heart to what are two of my favorite movie hitmen.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
Mark III wrote:
Although the movie wasn't very good, and the hitman wasn't exactly memorable, someone might as well throw out Jay from Kill List.


You see, after all these months after seeing it, I'm still not sure what to think about Kill List. I think Roger Ebert summed it up best when he says "It's baffling and goofy, blood-soaked and not boring. That it's well-made adds to the confusion; it feels like a better film than it turns out to be." But I certainly agree it's an excellent choice, and out of all the films I've seen this year, Kill List is possibly the most memorable (and unsettling) experience, one that's stuck with me longer than most of the big-budget summer movies.

I'm surprised no mention of In Bruges. Colin Farrell delivers probably his best performance, and Brendan Gleeson provides real heart to what are two of my favorite movie hitmen.


First: In Bruges is a great contribution. And no "probably" about it: Farrell has never been better. His turn in Minority Report was also good but that's for another thread.

Kill List
seemed largely improvised and maybe with too much inspiration to fit into one movie. Don't know what happened there. Blonde Almond liked it and reviewed it here: http://yesthesethingsmatter.wordpress.c ... /#more-260
The sole response to the review is mine and runs all the bases I won't be doing here.

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:06 pm
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Several of my picks have already been mentioned on here but how about another mention for Jeff Costello, the main character in Le Samourai? The detached and meticulous manner with which he goes about his business is never anything less than fascinating to observe. Clearly, several of the other characters mentioned on this thread (including the title character in Leon) were influenced by this landmark creation. Another memorable hitman that was influenced by this film would be Ah Jong, the titular character in John Woo's The Killer (the film itself a somewhat loose remake of the 1967 film). Also, even though he isn't an assassin per se, I would nominate The Driver from Drive since his modus operandi is strikingly similar to that of most movie hitmen (and he certainly has no qualms about killing when circumstances call for it).


Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:37 am
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
There's Le Samouraï and there all the movies that are Le Samouraï]'s bottom bitches.

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Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:41 am
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Mark III wrote:
There's Le Samouraï and there all the movies that are Le Samouraï]'s bottom bitches.


Damn, I've been heaving great things about Le Samouraï for years now. I wish Criterion would hurry up and release it on blu-ray. I've seen two other Melville films, Le Cercle Rouge and Army of Shadows, and whilst I admired them, I wasn't truly enamored by them. But I've heard many say that Le Samouraï's his best, so I'll definitely be seeking it out some time in the future.


Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:57 am
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
Mark III wrote:
There's Le Samouraï and there all the movies that are Le Samouraï]'s bottom bitches.


Damn, I've been heaving great things about Le Samouraï for years now. I wish Criterion would hurry up and release it on blu-ray. I've seen two other Melville films, Le Cercle Rouge and Army of Shadows, and whilst I admired them, I wasn't truly enamored by them. But I've heard many say that Le Samouraï's his best, so I'll definitely be seeking it out some time in the future.


If I could take down this forum for 24 hours and put up the below poster, I would.


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Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:10 am
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
I'll throw out Timothy Olyphant in Hitman (hey...they name of the movie is "Hitman") who comes off as a stunted version of Leon...if that's even possible.

Oh...and I'll tread out to the fringe of the "assassin" definition a bit and throw out Barry Pepper's sniper in Saving Private Ryan


Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:04 am
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Post Re: Memorable Movie Assasins/Hitmen
johnny larue wrote:
I'll throw out Timothy Olyphant in Hitman (hey...they name of the movie is "Hitman") who comes off as a stunted version of Leon...if that's even possible.

Oh...and I'll tread out to the fringe of the "assassin" definition a bit and throw out Barry Pepper's sniper in Saving Private Ryan


Cool answer! If we're allowed to stretch things a bit, I'll add Jean Reno's Victor the Cleaner in La Femme Nikita. A major badass, him

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