This week finally sees the UK release of John Wick, and it got the Third Act team thinking about the best, the worst, and the most offensively bad assassin films of all time.
The Good: Léon: The Professional
This is without question the best assassin film of all time. Jean Reno gives the best performance of his career as the ruthless and realistic title character, as well as introducing us to Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, and giving us one of the most underrated villains in movie history, Gary Oldman’s Stansfield. It has great action, the perfect balance between light and dark, and some very touching moments.
Honourable Mention: The Bourne Series
The Bourne trilogy and side-quel are all solid films, with an interesting mystery that runs through all of the films. It might be known as your dad’s favourite franchise, but there’s a lot here to enjoy. Matt Damon is also suitably badass and completely believable as a super assassin.
Honourable Mention: Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino loves a good assassin, but The Bride in Kill Bill is probably his best to date. While a lot of people don’t like Volume 2 as much as Volume 1, but the series has a lot of great fighting (especially THAT fight with the Crazy 88), and some genuinely funny moments. Tarantino’s fingerprints are all over it, and that’s a good thing.
Honourable Mention: Wanted
James McAvoy was an unlikely action hero, but he, along with the rest of the cast sold a bizarre concept and crazy, over the top action scenes. Not quite as good as the rest of the films here, but a lot of fun nevertheless.
The Bad: Ninja Assassin
Some people like this film, but I really don’t. I thought it was pretty boring, and really dark. Not dark as in brooding, but dark as in I could barely see what was happening. I would love to see a good ninja film, but this isn’t it.
Dishonourable Mention: Killer Elite
This is so bad, because it could have been so good. Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro in a globe-trotting action adventure? I would watch that film tomorrow if it was coming out. I’s hard to say where this went wrong, but it being too long and formulaic is a good place to start.
Dishonourable Mention: Point of No Return
Bridget Fonda is thoroughly unbelievable in this poor remake of the French film La Femme Nikita, which narrowly missed out on being featured on the good list. It also has one of the longest (and worst) taglines in film history – The Government gave her a choice. Death. Or life as an assassin. Now, there’s no turning back. What were they thinking?
The Ugly: Hitman
Just no. Nothing about this film was good, apart from that fitted suit. Avoid.
Why Mention: Assassins
Before The Expendables 3, Stallone and Banderas had starred in a film together. A unmemorable, pretty terrible film. No good action, way too long and overly complicated. Don’t waste your time with this one.
Why Mention: Killers
Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher in an action comedy? This… Yeah this was never gonna be good. Imagine Mr. and Mrs. Smith without any chemistry between the two lead actors or quite frankly anything good at all.
Why Mention: Elektra
The only superhero film on this list, Elektra is a spin-off from the equally disliked Dardevil. Really a product of its time (pre Marvel cinematic universe), Elektra has neither good assassinations scenes, or good superhero scenes. It’s not a good adaptation of the source material, and it’s not a good film.
So those are our picks for the good, the bad, and the very worst of assassin films. Do you agree or disagree with our choices? What did we miss? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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