A Prophet (2009)
The Target: Reyeb
The Motive: Having been sent to prison for attacking a police officer, new fish Malik finds himself being leaned upon by the joint’s resident heavy mob, led by the ruthless Cesar Luciani. In order to get them off his case he agrees to the murder of Reyeb, a key witness in a case against Luciani’s people…
The Kill: A grisly and visceral slaying courtesy of a razor blade Malik has been hiding in his mouth.
The Target: Harvey Milk
The Motive: Milk is killed at the hands of the increasingly unstable politician and Vietnam vet Dan White, who finds both his career and mental health going off the rails after Milk refuses to help support him in his attempts to prevent the opening of a psychiatric hospital in his district.
The Kill: Despite the fact that the audience knows what’s coming, White’s execution-style killing of Milk is still profoundly shocking, thanks largely to the obvious rage with which White opens fire. Sean Penn rightly won the majority of the plaudits, but Josh Brolin’s performance in this scene is truly masterful.
The Punisher (2004)
The Target: The Castle family
The Motive: Enraged by FBI agent Frank Castle having killed his son in the line of duty, gangster Howard Saint commissions a posse of assorted gunmen to unleash hell at a Castle family reunion. Not so much an assassination as a massacre, this one…
The Kill: Men, women and children are ruthlessly picked off in this unflinchingly horrific scene. And just when you think Frank’s wife and child have got away, their car is steamrollered by a truck!
The Target: Peter Lim
The Motive: Lim is a Korean gangster, and the last surviving witness in a pending indictment case against drug lord Felix Reyes-Torrena. As such, Reyes-Torrena wants him dead, and puts his best man on the job…
The Kill: Hitman Vincent tracks Lim down to a packed nightclub, where a host of FBI agents has also convened. All hell promptly breaks loose, but despite the chaos, Vincent still manages to take down all of Lim’s henchman, plus Lim himself, before walking briskly from the scene. Smooth.
The Target: Oscar Romero, fourth Archbishop of El Salvador
The Motive: His assailant’s identity is unknown, but one can only assume he took umbrage with Romero’s outspoken anti-government sentiments.
The Kill: Nothing showy about this one, but the hit remains profoundly shocking, coming as it does in the middle of one of Romero’s sermons. The scene cuts back and forth between Romero’s impassioned speech and the purposeful movement of the gunman from his car, the tension building steadily to the sequence’s inevitable climax.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The Target: Plenty O’Toole
The Motive: Killed in a case of mistaken identity by Blofeld’s hitmen Mr Wint and Mr Kidd. They had been attempting to knock off diamond smuggler Tiffany Case. Oops.
The Kill: One of the duo’s more sadistic kills, O’Toole is submerged in just enough water to cover the tip of her nose, so as to drown her as slowly as possible.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Target: Simon Ross
The Motive: A Guardian journalist looking into Operation Treadstone, Ross is killed when the CIA get wind of his investigation and send hired gun Paz to tie up the loose end.
The Kill: In a breathlessly exciting scene staged at London’s bustling Waterloo station, Jason Bourne desperately attempts to help Ross evade his pursuers, only for the hack to disregard his instructions, landing himself squarely in Paz’s crosshairs.
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
The Target: Jesse James
The Motive: A combination of disillusionment, avarice, jealousy and plain old cowardice contribute to Ford’s eventual betrayal of his former idol.
The Kill: Despite being flagged up in the title, the eventual assassination is a profoundly moving experience, with James’ placid, almost dreamlike acceptance of his fate offset nicely by the perspiring frenzy of Ford’s actions. Haunting stuff.
Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead (1995)
The Target: Pieces
The Motive: As part of a criminal crew who badly botched a job, Pieces has incurred the wrath of crime boss The Man With The Plan. And that wrath is personified by the terrifying hitman, Mr Shhh…
The Kill: Not as flamboyant as some of Shhh’s executions, but the way in which Pieces surrenders to his aggressor, and pleads for him to make it quick, demonstrates just how menacing the diminutive assassin really is. Thankfully for Pieces, Shhh obliges him with a swift pull of the trigger.
The Target: Ricorso
The Motive: Attention-seeking, pure and simple. Knowing the cameras of Gotham’s media are trained on a press conference being attended by suspected crook Ricorso, the Joker decides a well-timed assassination would put him at the top of the city’s news agenda.
The Kill: Flamboyantly accosting a bemused-looking Ricorso, the Joker stabs his man in the throat with the sharpened point of a quill, before declaring: “the pen is truly mightier than the sword!”
Get Carter (1971)
The Target: Margaret
The Motive: When Jack Carter learns that not only has his brother been killed but his niece has become embroiled in amateur pornography, he blames prostitute Margaret for leading her off the straight and narrow.
The Kill: Forcing her to strip off at gunpoint, Carter cooks up a lethal hotshot of heroin and injects her with it. Just to ram the message home, he dumps her naked corpse at the house of porn baron Cyril Kinnear, before tipping off the police to pay him a little visit.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)
The Target: Marco Racin
The Motive: According to Mrs Smith, Mr Racin has been “selling big guns to bad people,” and that’s exactly the sort of behaviour that can lead someone to take out a contract on your life…
The Kill: Having disguised herself as an S&M dominatrix, the PVC-clad Smith teases Racin with a bit of gentle whiplash, before snapping his neck like a twig.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
The Target: Pai Mei
The Motive: Once a student of the beardy guru, Elle Driver takes her long-anticipated revenge upon her former master. Well, he did pluck her eye out, after all…
The Kill: Knowing that Pai Mei can’t resist chowing down on his favourite delicacy of tasty fish heads, Driver supplies him with a poisoned batch. Eating the unadulterated ones would be bad enough…
The Target: Bobby Kent
The Motive: The clue is in the title. Kent has spent the last few years dedicated to making his buddies’ lives a living hell… it would appear he pushed them too far.
The Kill: A horribly amateurish, but bloodily effective combination of a slit throat, multiple stab wounds and serious trauma from a baseball bat. It’s not what you’d call efficient, but they certainly get the job done.
The Mechanic (1972)
The Target: Steve McKenna
The Motive: The perceptive Arthur Bishop has long foreseen the day that protégé McKenna will turn on him, and so sets up a spot of posthumous revenge for when the apprentice eventually turns on his master.
The Kill: McKenna steals the recently deceased Bishop’s car, only to be blown to smithereens by the booby-trapped motor. Serves him right, the backstabbing tyke!
The Target: Edward “The Comedian” Blake
The Motive: He’s taken out by an unnamed assailant (unnamed at this point, anyway) with an apparent dislike for self-appointed caped crusaders such as Blake.
The Kill: A bruising, hand-to-hand scrap in The Comedian’s apartment, which comes to a grisly close when Blake is tossed through a window into the sweet hereafter. Who needs guns when you’ve got an unyielding stretch of pavement to hand?
The Target: Brick Top
The Motive: Vengeance for his attack on the gypsy caravan site. As Turkish so eloquently puts it, “for every action, there is a reaction… and a pikey reaction is quite a fucking thing.”
The Kill: Blown away in his car, having asked too late for a henchman to provide him with his “shooter”. “I’ll give you your shooter you cunt,” is the reply from his assailant.
The Target: Admiral Chuck Farrel
The Motive: A hit carried out by Janus operative Xenia Onatopp in order to allow Colonel Ouromov to steal the Admiral’s identity.
The Kill: Rather than just shooting him, Xenia takes the Colonel to bed where she crushes him with her thighs. Of all the ways to go on this list, this surely has to be the most preferable...
Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai (1999)
The Target: Sonny Valerio
The Motive: A hitman formerly in the employ of the Mob, Ghost Dog realises he must turn on his old paymasters when they decide he has become a liability. Sonny is just one of many names on the assassin’s hit list…
The Kill: An ingeniously creative hit, in which Ghost Dog positions himself in the mobster’s basement, before firing a well aimed bullet up the pipe beneath the bathroom sink. One minute Sonny is brushing his teeth, the next his brains are all over the ceiling.
The Target: Unknown woman
The Motive: It’s nothing personal. Nikita is just doing a job. Just one of a long line of similar “jobs”… still, a girl’s got to eat, right?
The Kill: Taking a break from an amorous encounter in her hotel room, Nikita pops to the bathroom in her underwear, assembles a high-powered rifle and takes out her target in the building opposite. Job done, it’s back to the bedroom to pick up where she left off. Talk about multi-tasking!
The Target: Francisco Flores
The Motive: A feared hitman himself, Flores is taken out by an unseen gunman as payback for his cooperation with General Salazar, the figurehead of Mexico’s anti-drug campaign.
The Kill: Flores is actually in the middle of a hit of his own when he is whacked. As he prepares to take out an informant, Flores catches a bullet between the shoulders at the last possible moment. Live by the sword, and all that…
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Target: Brett
The Motive: Dispatched by Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega on the orders of Marsellus Wallace. The reason? Well apparently, he tried to fuck Wallace like a bitch…
The Kill: An execution-style hit, preceded by a volley of cod-Biblical preaching from Winnfield. So that’s what great vengeance and furious anger looks like.
Casino Royale (2006)
The Target: Dryden
The Motive: Having learned that Dryden, an MI6 section chief, has been selling classified information, James Bond is dispatched to Prague to plug the leak.
The Kill: Having brutally dispatched Dryden’s contact Fisher with a combination of bare hands and a bullet, Bond takes out the main man with disdainful ease. “You needn’t worry, the second is always…” begins Dryden, before Bond cuts him off emphatically. “Yes,” he replies. “Considerably.” What an opening scene!
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
The Target: Don Fanucci
The Motive: Sheer ambition, as the young Vito Corleone spies an opportunity to take over Fanucci’s position as kingpin of his local area of New York. The old boy had just offered him a job too!
The Kill: Lingering in the shadows outside his target’s apartment, young Vito uses a towel to fashion a makeshift silencer before putting one in Fanucci’s chest and one in his head. Nice and professional, you have to admit.
The Untouchables (1987)
The Target: Jim Malone
The Motive: Tiring of Eliot Ness’ elite squad of coppers meddling in his business, Al Capone indulges in a little retaliation by having cuddly old Malone gunned down in his own home.
The Kill: Capone’s chief hitman Frank Nitti lays the simplest of traps, sending a knife-wielding underling to draw Malone out of his apartment before lighting him up with his Tommy gun.
The Target: Tony Montana
The Motive: Having been commissioned by drug kingpin Alejandro Sosa to knock off a pesky journalist, Montana gets cold feet when he learns the target’s family will also be killed. When he prevents the hit, killing one of Sosa’s men in the process, the boss is somewhat displeased.
The Kill: Despite the operatic final stand in which a coked-up Tony wipes out a whole host of Sosa’s goons, he is finally laid low by the assassin known as The Skull, who mercilessly shoots him in the back. The bounder!
Apocalypse Now (1979)
The Target: Colonel Walter E Kurtz
The Motive: Captain Benjamin Willard has been charged by American intelligence officers to take out the rogue colonel, although when he finally gets to doing the deed, it’s debatable just how much of his motivation is fuelled by duty and how much by sheer madness.
The Kill: An up close and personal encounter with a machete, interspersed with shots of a luckless water buffalo being offed in a similar fashion.
The Godfather (1972)
The Target: Sonny Corleone
The Motive: Retaliation on the part of the Tattaglia family (in turn acting on the behalf of the Barzinis) for the murders of Sollozzo and McCluskey.
The Kill: Having been drawn into a trap by his abusive brother-in-law, Carlo Rizzi, Sonny is lured from the safety of the Corleone family compound and ambushed at a tollbooth by a swarm of hitmen. Riddling his body with machinegun fire, it’s fair to say they do a pretty thorough job.
The Target: Tommy DeVito
The Motive: Retaliation for the murder of made man Billy Batts on the part of the Gambino crime family. That temper was always going to get him in trouble eventually…
The Kill: A callous set-up in which Tommy is convinced he is going to become a made guy, only to receive a bullet in the head instead.
The Godfather (1972)
The Target: Virgil Sollozzo and his bodyguard, Captain McCluskey
The Motive: Having taken out Corleone family muscle Luca Brasi, and made an attempt on Don Vito himself, Sollozzo just had to get got…
The Kill: One of the most famous hits in movie history, this is the moment when bright-eyed college boy Michael begins his journey into darkness. And all it takes is three little squeezes of his trigger finger…