Target acquired.

Last week saw the release of Sicario (read review here) starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and anti-heroic hitman of the ages Benicio Del Toro. Now, after seeing him in action it forced me to reminisce some killer hits of films gone by and compile some of the best assassinations ever caught on film. Set your sights on the list below and see if a favourite made the cut. Fire when ready.


 

The Godfather

Making film fans look behind old-fashioned public toilets since 1972, Michael’s assassination of Sollozzo and dodgy copper McCluskey is as intense as it was 43 years ago. For a brief moment there’s a fear of whether Michael will be able to follow through with his plan, not because of the diversion on the bridge, but simply if he has the stones to pull the trigger.

Coppola lays the tension so thick you could run a train over it, which only amplifies Pacino’s stellar performance. Pushing Michael’s personal battle to its limits, he finally draws the gun, leaving the shots to ring out and turning the tables on (and over) his enemy. Dinner is done and thanks to Michael, so is Sollozzo. Dessert, anyone?


 

Collateral


Sometimes even the hardest hitmen show signs of compassion, even Tom Cruise’s silver fox Vincent, in Michael Mann’s Collateral. After killing some time at a jazz club between stops, Vincent pulls his reluctant new driver along to listen to some tunes. When the bar is empty and the music stops, a few anecdotes between performer and fan suddenly get serious when Vincent reveals why he’s really there, and what it’ll take for his potential target to get out of it. Of course, there’s no right answer to this, regardless of what’s given.

Whilst Foxx may be present at the table, there’s only two talents worth watching; Tom Cruise in one of his best performances, and the always welcome Barry Shabaka Henley sat opposite him. The latter goes through a trail of emotions, hit with a wave of terror at who he’s having laughs with, and playing it cool when he gives his final answer. It’s a wonderfully delivered scene that shows that there’s a sliver of humanity in Cruise’s Angel of Death and it’s one of the few times you’ll get to see it on this fateful night.


 

Gomorrah

Matteo Garrone’s 2008 film concerning the criminal activity of the Comorra and their Mafia-model world is one that got nowhere near the attention it deserved. For those that have been lucky enough to see it, you’ll know that it gets all your attention in the first UV and blood-soaked minutes. Ladies and gents, this is how you open a film.

You don’t kick things off in a tanning salon without something big ready to go down and Garrone’s location fires the film up wonderfully. Under ultra-violet light, greasy looking men who look shifty as hell top up their tan and get their nails done. There’s laughs, there’s banter and then from nowhere guns are drawn and the killers calmly leave the premises, leaving their targets to cook. It’s brutal and close and establishes the tone of what is one hell of a watch, if you haven’t visited Gomorrah before, this should be enough to take the trip.


 

No Country For Old Men

With hair as diabolical as his character, Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is not only one of the most lethal hitmen on screen, he’s one of the most terrifying characters ever to grace it. A man who shows no emotion for most the time, but clearly loves his job, there’s one hit he handles in No Country For Old Men that is as tense as any other interaction he has in the film.

Bardem might dominate every time he’s in front of the camera, but there’s no doubt that Harrelson gives a wonderful performance for him to work off of. The back and forth between a man whose fate is sealed and the one who’s there to seal it is palpable. As Carson Wells, Harrelson shows signs of almost disappointment in himself at the stairs walking to his death, and comes across more annoyed that this is how he’s going to go. In a film that is all about accepting the things you can’t change, Carson is a victim of that as much as anyone, and plays it cool until the very end.


 

The Terminator

Even though this assassin doesn’t actually complete his mission, he does have a fairly good go at taking out Sarah Connor, even if it’s not the right one. Playing out in what is one of Cameron’s most haunting scenes in his sci-fi classic, seeing the hardwired hitman pull up and storm into a home belonging to one Sarah Connor still brings chills.

The precision of it, the blunt and unflinching performance that Arnie gives here and throughout the film are what made him such a huge star from here on out. Cold, calculated and still hiding the secret to what’s really going underneath the films titular antagonist taking out Sarah Connor is a strong forewarning of just how terrifying this villain will be.