Top Ten Assassination Movies

Top 10 Assassination Movies

This week we have the Christmas Day release of the new MGM thriller Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise and directed by Bryan Singer in which Tom Cruise is out to assassinate Hitler, and MGM decided they wanted to sponsor a list of my Top Ten Assassination Films in conjunction with the release. How cool is that!?!? However, it wasn’t all roses putting the piece together.

When trying to figure out my top ten assassination films I had to quickly look at the list I was putting together and figure out is it a revenge film or an assassination film? For example, Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is a revenge film carried out by an assassin… So it is it an assassination film? I decided – no. Gangs of New York was another one I felt fit into the revenge category and didn’t make the list even though I love it.

How about Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic? A great film… definitely some assassination going on… but is it, at its core, an assassination film? Again, I decided – no.

I wanted to get one for the romantic in there, but The Bodyguard was more about a stalker than an assassin. Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a bit too cheesy (and not exactly great) and films like Bulworth and Grosse Pointe Blank just missed the list along with Costa Gravas’ Z, which is just a bit too dated and Fred Zinnemann’s The Day of the Jackal, which I quite frankly just can’t stand (too long for too little payoff). Of course, this list is up for plenty of debate and who knows, maybe the December 25 release of Valkyrie would inspire some of you to add that one to your own personal lists.

So, after you have taken a look at my top ten assassination films be sure to add your own list and discuss in the comments below.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Photo: Warner Bros.

As you navigate through this list you will notice a wide range of films from extremely violent to rather reserved, The Assassination of Jesse James is certainly the most reserved of the bunch as this is more of a quiet and reflective film than an all out gunslinger’s tale, and quite frankly that’s what I love about it. This film is a slow go, and it’s not for everyone, but it happens to be one of my favorite over the past few years and is perfectly suited for my list of top assassination films.

The Proposition

Photo: First Look Pictures

In terms of violence The Proposition is the polar opposite of The Assassination of Jesse James as director John Hillcoat tells the story of a man (Guy Pearce) charged with the task of assassinating his brother(Danny Huston) only to save his own skin and the skin of his younger brother(Richard Wilson) who is now in custody. The film is set in the Australian Outback during the 1880s and is wildly savage. Hillcoat directed the upcoming adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” due out in 2009 and I would say this is just about as close to getting a movie in the same vein as McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” that you will ever see on the big screen.

In the Line of Fire

Photo: Columbia Pictures

John Malkovich sells this one for me as it led into a stream of fun Malkovich roles in the later 1990s with the likes of the goofy Con Air, his unforgettable turn as Teddy KGB in Rounders and then the hit-and-miss Being John Malkovich. In this one Malk faces off against Clint Eastwood, an aging Secret Service agent who was part of John F. Kennedy’s failed detail. Using mind games and featuring a fantastic lakeside scene as Malk takes out a couple of duck hunters this is just a fun movie all around.

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