12th Dec2016

Feature: Assassins’ Greatest Hits

by Phil Wheat

In the superb action sequel Mechanic: Resurrection, assassin Arthur Bishop (played by Jason Statham), proves his reputation as the best in the profession by carrying out a series of killings, including knocking off a murderous warlord and an arms dealer, and making them look like accidents. In a stand-out, nerve-shredding scene from the film, he dangles from underneath a glass swimming pool that juts out from the top of a skyscraper, to kill the villain during his daily swim. It’s just one of the many innovative and extraordinary lengths onscreen hit men will go to, to ensure they get their target. Here, along with Bishop’s pool kill, are some of the screen’s most fantastic assassinations.

The Jackal in Day of the Jackal (1973)

In this classic thriller, Edward Fox plays an assassin called the ‘Jackal’, who plots to kill Charles De Gualle, the President of France, one of the most closely-guarded men in the world thanks to previous assassination attempts. But he hasn’t reckoned on the Jackal, a meticulous professional who always hits his target. Even if his target is a watermelon.

Arthur Bishop in The Mechanic (2011)

In the first film starring Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, we see that Bishop seems to specialise in swimming pool kills (not surprising, considering Statham himself was once part of Britain’s national diving squad). At the start of the film he kills a Columbian drug baron by drowning him in the villain’s swimming pool.

Jules Winfield & Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (1994)

Jules and Vincent (played by Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta) are an unlikely, if highly lethal, pair of hit men in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning classic. Jules’s technique appears to be to take people off guard by eating their food, talking them half to death and quoting great chunks of scripture; before the two black suited killers empty their guns into just about everyone in the room.

Grosse Point Blank (1997)

John Cusack plays Martin Blank, a professional killer who employs the most incredible techniques to finish off his prey, including drilling a hole through a roof to drip a tiny drop of poison into the mouth of a sleeping man. Ready in any situation, Blank also has a shoot out in in a supermarket, and engages in some hand to hand combat by the school lockers.

Leon in Leon (1994)

Luc Besson’s crime thriller features the titular assassin, played by Jean Reno, who is so good at his job of eliminating others, that when an entire SWAT team storm his New York apartment, in an astonishing sequence, he manages to not only kill most of them, but to escape as well.

John Wick (2014)

Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the best hitman in the business (although Arthur Bishop may disagree. He’s so good, he even kills other assassins in the course of his work (which is one way to slim down opposition). The consummate professional, he won’t allow anything – including pounding music and flashing lights – to distract him from the job at hand.

Nikita in La Femme Nikita (1990)

Nikita (Anne Parillaud) is a convicted criminal who forgoes a jail sentence to be trained as a government killer instead. During this scene, we see she has mastered gun control well during her training – sitting in a fancy restaurant, she coolly slips off her silk gloves, takes out a hand cannon, and goes to work.

Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men (2007)

One of the most unusual, frightening and unstoppable hit men is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) in the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men. He is described as “”. He is lethal, and cruel, and doesn’t always use a gun. Here he resourcefully and effortlessly kills a man using a pressurised air cannister. Hell, he makes it look like the man dies voluntarily.


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Mechanic: Resurrection (15) is released on digital download 19th December, and on DVD, Blu-ray, UHD and VOD 26th December.

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