11 September 2013

Hitmen Movies to Kill For


Films about assassins can sometimes be trite, but every once in a while a gem comes out. The best flicks that capture these professionals don't just feature killing machines, but fully-fleshed with motivations they keep all to themselves. These characters are fascinating with their natural charisma and yet merciless nature when dealing with others. Characters like Vincent (Tom Cruise) and Anton Chiguhr (Javier Bardem) are oddities in cinema, but their unique behavior makes for compelling viewing.

Below are ten of the best hitmen movies on Netflix and DVD.

Pulp Fiction

Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) are the most memorable characters from Quentin Tarantino's touchstone Pulp Fiction, and it comes with good cause. The two enforcers keep it all interesting while they chew the fat on such philosophical topics as French names for American fast food and t.v. pilots in between laying down the law. The dialogue pops, nods to old classics are weaved throughout every scene, and Jackson gives an iconic performance.

No Country for Old Men

Javier Bardem is excellence itself as the mop-topped contract killer, Anton Chiguhr, whose wandering eye strikes fear into every man he meets. Some interpretations of the film make him out to be an angel of death who is cleansing the world of injustice, others see him as the personification of death. The Coens strive to keep Chiguhr as free from association as possible. If Chiguhr is human you would never know it from his Jaws-like ability to come and go leaving havoc in his wake.

In Bruges

Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are hiding out in Bruges after a job goes horribly wrong and they need to stay out of sight for a while. As a retreat in one of the world's oldest cities turns to a shoot-out after their boss comes to personally take care of Ray, it all becomes clear, hit-men really do make the world's worst tourists.

Munich

A team of five men come to grips with their identity and the violent acts they commit in hunting down and killing those involved in the Black September assassinations of Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympics of 1972. These men aren't assassins, but expendable assets of the Mossad has tasked with rectifying one of history's most infamous acts of terror. One of Steven Spielberg's uncharacteristically dark films, but also one of his best.

The Matador

Few men are as brash as Pierce Brosnan's contract killer Julian. He wanders through hotel lobbies in nothing but cowboys boots and briefs, engages in conversations with fellow travelers in the area, and in one case, reveals to that fellow traveler Danny (Greg Kinnear) that he is an assassin. Julian offers him a position to help him, but Danny declines. Several months later and Julian is on Danny's door step, it turns out that Julian hasn't been the same since Mexico City and his handlers have taken out a contract on him. Left with no alternative, Danny must help Julian stage one last job because both their lives depend on it.

Road to Perdition

Michael Sullivan is a loving father and husband, he is also a hitman for Chicago patriarch John Rooney (Paul Newman). When Michael's oldest son hides in his car to see what he does at night, Jr. accidentally witnesses his father and Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) murder a man. To save his own ass, Connor has Michael's wife and youngest son killed. Enraged, Michael sets about seeking those responsible and protecting his child from cruelties that this world can't always explain.

Grosse Pointe Blank

Martin Blank (John Cusack) is at an impasse, he is looking to get out of the business that has made him very wealthy and also very paranoid. He receives an assignment that, by chance, places Martin back in his hometown during a ten year high-school reunion. Deciding to give it a shot, Martin runs into his high-school girlfriend still living in town, who understandably holds a grudge against him for standing her up on prom night. Trying to tie up all his loose ends, Martin discovers that if his job doesn't kill him, staying in Grosse Pointe may.

Looper

Loopers are not forward-thinking people, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) explains to us at the beginning of the film. They are contracted to kill people who don't yet exist in this time and collect the precious metals that come with the body. They are rewarded quite handsomely for this task, but it comes with strings: eventually they have to kill themselves. Killing your future self usually goes off without a hitch, so blunderbuss in hand, Joe waits until a masked figure appears in front of him. What happens next is unexpected and could radically change the outcome of both worlds.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Back in 2002, before George Clooney was an established presence as a director, he took the director's seat for the first time. His first feature chronicled a gameshow host who moonlights as a CIA assassin featuring a livewire Sam Rockwell as Chuck Barris. The concept of such a big-time figure spending his vacation killing targets as a covert operative sounds too crazy to be true, but stranger things have happended and the saying "truth is stranger than fiction" exists for a reason.

Collateral

Tom Cruise is the quintessential good guy: Top Gun, Mission: Impossible, The Last Samurai, A Few Good Men, I could go on but I'm sure you get the point. That is what made the transformation he undertook in Collateral all the more intriguing. Tom Cruise is a hell of a villain. Cruise doesn't look radically altered in this film, but he might as well be an entirely different human being. Vincent's eyes say a lot more about the man than the film ever mentions. He is calm, collected and chilling.

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