10 Movie Hitmen You Don’t Want on Your Tail
There’s something fundamentally compelling about hitmen that makes them perfect fodder for movies. Sure, they kill people for a living. But it’s just business, nothing personal. (Well, sometimes it’s personal.)
With George Clooney taking aim in The American, we’re paying tribute to some hitmen who you better hope don’t come gunning for you.
10. Martin Blank, Grosse Pointe Blank
As if high school reunions aren’t stressful enough, hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) has to deal with a French contract killer and NSA agents while also reuniting with an old flame (Minnie Driver) in this quirky dark comedy. Sure, offing people for a living probably wasn’t Martin’s senior yearbook prediction. But as played by John Cusack, he’s easily the most interesting alum at the class reunion.
9. Jackie Cogan, Killing Them Softly
Brad Pitt plays mob enforcer Jackie Cogan in this underrated crime drama set against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis. Cogan prefers to kill his victims “softly” from a distance to grant them a final moment without fear. Like his pal Mickey Fallon (James Gandolfini), Cogan is a hitman from the old school who has no time for reckless young bucks. While he may tread softly, Jackie carries a big gun. If he’s coming your way, it’s lights out.
8. Vincent, Collateral
As played by Tom Cruise, Vincent is a cold-as-ice killer who slinks through the mean streets of Los Angeles like a fox hunting his prey. When he forces cabbie Max (Jamie Foxx) to be his personal driver for the night, we’re taken along for a murderous ride courtesy of crime auteur Michael Mann. If your first stop of the night involves a body being dropped on your cab, maybe it’s time to consider being an Uber driver. At least that way you can give the hitmen you pick up a low star rating.
7. Agent 47, Hitman
When your flick is called Hitman, you better deliver a body count. And deliver Agent 47 does in this action-packed adaptation of the hit (pun intended) video game series. An orphan trained by the mysterious Organization to be a killing machine, Agent 47 is a master in the art of swordfighting and firing two semi-automatics in slow motion. Whatever you do, don’t try to scan that barcode on the back of his bald head.
6. John and Jane Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Marriage is hard work, but it’s even harder when you and your spouse are contract killers for rival agencies. That’s the premise of the 2005 blockbuster Mr. and Mrs. Smith, where the former Mr. and Mrs. Pitt-Jolie battle it out as assassins tasked with killing each other. While it might lead to a ton of marital counseling bills, shooting up your home is a good way to kickstart that remodeling project you’ve been putting off.
5. Jack, The American
A wiz with a sniper rifle, Jack (George Clooney) is a man of few words who keeps people right where he wants them – in his crosshairs. He’s also a craftsman who takes just as much pride in building his weapon as using it. You’d just better hope you’re not the one he’s got his eye on.
4. Joe, Looper
Time is the ultimate killer in this twisty sci-fi thriller from writer/director Rian Johnson. In a future society where time travel is illegal and used for contract killing, targets are sent back in time where “loopers” are waiting to punch their clocks, so to speak. But when looper Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds that his target is his future self (Bruce Willis), he realizes the bad guys he works for want to close his loop for good. Note to future time traveling assassins: Make sure you don’t become Bruce Willis in your twilight years. It’s pretty “hard” to make him “die.”
3. Arthur Bishop, The Mechanic
Played by Charles Bronson in the 1972 original (and Jason Statham in the 2011 remake and its 2016 sequel), Arthur Bishop is an assassin who always gets his target. As “The Mechanic,” he specializes in making his hits look like accidents, suicides or random crimes. But as he trains his late mentor’s son in the art of the misdirected murder, Bishop soon realizes he has a target on his own back. Whether it’s with guns, knives or poison, Bishop always gets the job done and walks away clean.
2. “Killer” Joe Cooper, Killer Joe
Matthew McConaughey earned raves as a cop who takes contract hits on the side in this Southern-fried noir from playwright Tracy Letts and director William Friedkin. After being hired by a drug dealer (Emile Hirsch) to kill his mother for an insurance payout, Joe gets mixed up in some seriously twisted family drama. McConaughey’s laid-back charm makes “Killer” Joe a compelling villain we can’t stop watching even as the film barrels towards a gruesomely violent climax.
1. Léon Montana, Léon: The Professional
Don’t mistake Léon’s (Jean Reno) soft spot for his protégé Mathilda (Natalie Portman) as a weakness. A professional hitman, Léon utilizes his knack for taking out targets to protect Mathilda from a crazed DEA agent (Gary Oldman) who gunned down her family. As Léon gradually opens up to Mathilda, we realize it’s the “man” part that really makes a good hitman.