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50 Greatest Movie Assassination Scenes

Munich (2005)

The Assassination: In Paris, assassination squad member Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz) pretends to be a journalist as a cover for getting close to Mahmoud Hamshari.

He plants a bomb in his phone which will detonate when Carl (Ciarán Hinds) calls him.

Except Hamshari’s daughter returns to the house just when the bomb is meant to explode…

Why It's Great: You want tense? You got it.

Taxi Driver (1976)

The Assassination: Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) watches Senator Palantine. He pops a pill. Smiles and claps. Reaches into his jacket, but gets made by Palantine’s bodyguards.

Mission: failed. Travis: legging it.

Why It's Great: For a second there, you really think Travis is going to pull it off. That alone makes this scene riveting viewing.

That, and the unsettling smirk on Travis’ face.

The Assassination Of Jesse James (2007)

The Assassination: It’s all come down to this, as Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) and Jesse James (Brad Pitt) end up in a room alone together – and Ford whips out a gun.

Why It's Great : Both Pitt and Affleck play this brilliantly – Ford the shaky-handed youngster, James the knowing elder who saw this coming. Chills.

X2 (2003)

The Assassination: BAMF! BAMF!

Bryan Singer’s awesome superhero sequel opens as teleporting mutant Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) infiltrates the White House and attempts to kill the President.

Why It's Great:
Alright, so Nightcrawler fails in his mission, but his attempt is super-impressive.

Milk (2008)

The Assassination: Gay political activist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) is shot to death by Dan White (Josh Brolin) in his office.

Why It's Great: Thanks to Sean Penn as Milk, we’ve well and truly fallen in love with this guy by the time he’s shot, making the death all the more upsetting.

Mr & Mrs Smith (2005)

The Assassination: Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) poses as a PVC-wearing hooker in order to take down her target .

“You been a bad boy?”

Why It's Great: It’s equal parts sexy, funny and really cool – not least when Mrs Smith escapes by using a handy handbag contraption as an abseiling device.

Scarface (1983)

The Assassination: Power-crazy drug baron Tony Montana (Al Pacino) gets his comeuppance at the close of Scarface when Alejandro Sosa’s (Paul Shenar) men attack his mansion – and take him out in bullet-riddled style.

Why It's Great: One line: “Say hello to my little friend!”

American Gangster (2007)

The Assassination: “Either you’re somebody, or you’re nobody,” says Frank (Denzel Washington), just before he empties a salt seller, strolls out into the street and shoots dead mobster kingpin Tango.

Why It's Great:
It’s in broad daylight. It’s ice cold. And it’s Denzel Washington.

“You gonna shoot me? In front of everybody?” BLAM.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

The Assassination: “They were gonna make me a Major for this, and I wasn’t even in their fuckin’ army anymore.”

Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) finally takes down Kurtz (Marlon Brando) by using a machete.

Yes, a machete.

Why It's Great:
Kurtz seems as indestructible as a god.

Until Willard shows us he’s anything but.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

The Assassination: John Frankenheimer’s devastating political thriller comes to a bloodthirsty close as Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) gets his revenge on his mother for hypnotising him by shooting her and his stepfather dead on stage.

Why It's Great:
The editing in this scene is fantastic as Shaw trains his rifle on the real target – a presidential candidate – before quickly switching to shoot his stepfather.

Meanwhile, Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) races up the stairs in an attempt to stop him – only to get there too late.