50 Greatest Movie Assassination Scenes

In The Line Of Fire (1993)

The Assassination: Mitch Leary (John Malkovich) is a psychotic assassin who dreams of killing the President.

Before that, though, he takes out a couple of duck hunters who get in his way. “Why did you kill that bird, asshole?”

Why It's Great: “I need it to assassinate the President,” Leary says of his gun. The duck hunters think it’s a joke.

Leary doesn’t joke.

Machete (2010)

The Assassination: Machete (Danny Trejo) is set up by spin doctor Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey), who supposedly hires him to assassinate Texas State Senator McLaughlin (Robert De Niro).

Except when Machete’s in place, another assassin shoots Machete in the shoulder and McLaughlin in the leg – all as a publicity stunt, and to set Machete up as the gunman (opens in new tab) .

Why It's Great: It’s a legitimately decent plot twist in a pretty silly film.

Jack Reacher (2012)

The Assassination: Jack Reacher opens as Charlie (Jai Courtney) drives into a parking lot, gets out a sniper rifle, and aims across the Allegheny River at PNC Park.

Then he shoots and kills five people with deadly accuracy.

Why It’s Great: The scene is completely dialogue free, which only works to heighten the tension.

And the crack of bullets being fired is terrifying.

The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

The Assassination: Dorothy (Judy Garland) inadvertently takes out the Wicked Witch Of The West (Margaret Hamilton) when she spills water on her.

Why It's Great: Sure, Dorothy did it by mistake, but she still managed to rid Oz of the Wicked Witch.

Not bad if you ask us.

And we're fairly sure she's the only assassin on this list to kill her target whilst wearing a gingham dress.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

The Assassination: At the Royal Albert Hall, Jo (Doris Day) realises that the man she saw in Morocco is about to shoot the foreign Prime Minister (Alexis Bobrinskoy).

When she sees the gun barrel appear through a curtain, she screams, causing the assassin to misfire. The Prime Minister is saved.

Why It's Great: The use of music in the scene is fantastic – we know that the assassin’s going to fire when the cymbals crash, and Hitchcock stretches out the tension like a true professional.

Colombiana (2011)

The Assassination: In the film’s best segment (the rest of it’s pretty rubbish), trained killer Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) is arrested for drink driving and held in a police cell.

Which is exactly what she wanted – this way she can get to gangster Genarro Rizzo (Affif Ben Badra), who’s also being held in the prison.

Why It's Great : It’s sort of like old school Charlie’s Angels but really cool.

Also, Saldana pulls off the cold, detached killer thing with aplomb.

The Jackal (1997)

The Assassination: The Jackal (Bruce Willis) prepares to use his remote machine gun, stationed in the back of a car, to shoot the First Lady (Tess Harper).

Annoyingly for him, Declan (Richard Gere) and Carter (Sidney Poitier) are on his case (opens in new tab) .

Why It's Great: It’s a hi-tech update of the original Day Of The Jackal , with some really fancy weaponry.

Looper (2012)

The Assassination: Old Joe (Bruce Willis) has another go at offing Suzie’s young daughter, who he believes is the Rainmaker.

Meanwhile, in a fun flip, psychic kid Cid (Pierce Gagnon) falls down the stairs just as would-be-assassin Jesse (Garret Dillahunt) threatens his mum. Which makes Cid very angry…

Why It's Great: It’s like that scene in X-Men: Last Stand but even better, as the whole house starts to literally fall apart…

Watchmen (2009)

The Assassination: “Just a matter of time, I suppose,” grumbles The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), when a black-clad attacker kicks in his door.

Cue mug-throwing, gun-firing, knife-throwing and – finally – a smashed window and a very long way down.

Why It's Great: It’s got everything. Slow-mo. Great music. And some brilliant comic-book visuals.

Get Carter (1971)

The Assassination: Jack Carter (Michael Caine) plots revenge against the man who killed his brother, and finally catches up with Eric (Ian Hendry) on the beach.

He force-feeds him a bottle of whiskey and then beats him to a pulp – just before Jack himself is shot by a rifle-operating hitman.

Why It's Great: It’s bleak as hell and surely the only way out for Jack.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.