Tomorrow sees the release of KILL LIST, a dark and disturbing tale of two hitmen drawn into a horrific and paranoid nightmare when they take on a mysterious new contract. The second film from hotly tipped British director Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace), the film won rave reviews at SXBW and had its UK debut at this year’s FrightFest. To mark the release of this sure-to-be cult classic, we’re taking a look at the ten best hired killers in movie history.
Jean Reno’s break-through in America was as the shy hitman who befriends the young Natalie Portman, in her first ever screen role. At heart it’s a tender story about a surrogate father-daughter relationship, but French action maestro Luc Besson brings the explosions and Gary Oldman is terrifyingly amazing as the unhinged bad guy.
Ghost Dog (Ghost Dog: Way of The Samurai)
Future Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker starred as the titular assassin in Jim Jarmusch’s idiosyncratic crime drama. Ghost Dog is the lonely, pigeon-fancying self-styled samurai, who carries out hits for the mob. A fantastic blend of Japanese and hip-hop culture, with a cracking soundtrack from the Wu-Tang Clan’s The RZA.
Jef Costello (Le Samourai)
Jean-Pierre Meville’s classic French thriller set the template for all hit men movies that followed, and is a direct influence on pretty much all the films on this list. Alain Delon plays the lead with ice-like Gallic cool, cutting an iconic figure with his trench coat and cigarettes.
Jules and Vincent (Pulp Fiction)
Quentin Tarrantino rescued John Travolta’s career from the doldrums by casting his classic 90s crime anthology, teaming him with relative newcomer Samuel L Jackson as a pair of semi-competent assassins. Tarrantino described the pair as just two guys doing their jobs, which is why they seem more interested in chatting about fast food that killing people.
Chev Chelios (Crank)
In Neveldine/Taylor’s delightfully insane Crank movies, Jason Statham plays the oddly named Chev, an LA based hitman whose contract killing career is interrupted when he is injected with a cocktail of drugs with an unusual effect: if his adrenaline drops, he dies. Gleefully offensive and over-the-top, it’s like watching the most demented videogame of all time, and The Stath is on top form.
Martin Q Blank (Grosse Point Blank)
John Cusack plays Martin Q Blank, a typical John Cusack-style good looking slacker who’s stressing out about his high school reunion. A standard John Cusack film – apart from he’s a contract killer. A witty, smart, touching film that flips both romantic comedy and action movie clichés on their heads.
Tom Cruise stepped away from his good guy image, and went grey, to star in Michael Mann’s tense thriller. Jamie Foxx’s cab driver picks up Cruise, thinking it’ll just be a normal fair, but he’s forced at gunpoint to become his impromptu get-away driver for his one-man night of destruction.
The Bride (Kill Bill)
Another Tarrantino film on the list, in which Uma Thurman gives perhaps her most famous role as the blood-soaked Bride, a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. When she’s betrayed by her former colleagues and left for dead, she goes on, according to the trailer to part 2, “what the critics called a roaring rampage of revenge”.
The Jackal (The Jackal)
In this 1990s remake of the 70s thriller The Day Of The Jackal, Bruce Willis plays the deadly assassin known only by his pseudonym, hired to kill FBI director Richard Gere. Both the remake and the original were based on Frederick Forsyth’s novel, from which notorious real life terrorist Carlos The Jackal got his nickname.
Jay and Gal (Kill List)
The acclaimed second feature of Down Terrace director Ben Wheatley, this British hitman thriller garnered excellent reviews in SXSW festival. The story follows ex-soldier turned contract killer Jay, eight months after a disastrous job in Kiev left him physically and mentally scarred. Pressured by his partner, Gal, he takes on a new assignment. As they descend into the dark and disturbing world of the contract, Jay begins to unravel once again – his fear and paranoia sending him deep into the heart of darkness.
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