With crime biopic The Iceman hitting UK cinemas this week, there’s never been a better time to look back at the greatest hitman movies.
From violent thrillers to offbeat comedies, WOW247 picks out eight of the most memorable contract killer films ever made.
Road To Perdition (2002)
Tom Hanks is on magnificent form in this poignant and powerful Depression-era drama from the ever-excellent Sam Mendes, which centres around a world-weary mobster forced to go on the run with his young son.
Boasting jaw-dropping cinematography and bravura performances, the father-son relationship is deftly-handled, the late Paul Newman delivers a heart-breaking turn as Hanks’ conflicted boss, and both Jude Law and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig make their marks as a pair of detestable villains.
Both an absorbing thiller and a striking love-letter to the night-time atmosphere of his beloved LA, Michael Mann’s acclaimed crime movie stars Jamie Foxx as an unfortunate cab driver made to chauffeur Tom Cruise’s cold assassin from target to target.
The interplay between Foxx and Cruise is great, the plot twists and turns in gripping fashion, and the drama veers impressively between muscular action and intelligent, suspenseful exchanges.
Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
Something of a modern cult-classic, John Cusack plays a disillusioned professional killer reluctantly attending his High School Reunion in this weird but wonderful combination of off-the-wall comedy and quarter-life crisis drama.
Dan Aykroyd turns in a winning contribution as Cusack’s sleazy rival, Minnie Driver is perfect as Cusack’s horrified love interest – and the terrific soundtrack is the icing on the cake.
Leon: The Professional (1994)
Luc Besson’s captivating character drama hinges on a moment of conscience, as deadly hitman and staunch loner Leon rescues Natalie Portman’s troubled tween when a corrupt DEA squad massacres her family.
As their friendship develops and the girl becomes increasingly determined to exact revenge, events build to a dramatic climax that is both violent and beautiful. Jean Reno and Portman excel in the leading roles, but special props go to Gary Oldman as their magnificently unhinged nemesis Stansfield.
In Bruges (2008)
Without doubt one of the greatest black comedies ever made, playwright Martin McDonagh’s cinematic debut is a thing of hilarious, anarchic beauty.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are Irish hitmen, sent to lie low in the sleepy Belgian city of the title after a job goes horribly wrong. The script is infinitely quotable, Ralph Fiennes threatens to steal the show as the duo’s angry Essex boss, and the action takes in everything from clashes with tourists to a Ketamine-snorting, racist dwarf.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
The Coen Brothers deservedly scooped a swathe of Oscars for this tense, moody thriller, in which Javier Bardem’s relentless, bowl-haired psychopath pursues a case of stolen money across the dusty Deep South – cutting a bloody swathe through everything in his path.
Boasting a number of unforgettable scenes, and impressive performances from Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones and Kelly Macdonald, Bardem also rightly picked up an Oscar for his chilling take on the remorseless rogue assassin.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
This vastly underrated crime conundrum sparkles with energy and mystery. Josh Hartnett gets tasked with killing a mob boss’s son after being in the wrong place at the wrong time, while Bruce Willis’s enigmatic killing machine is also a key player.
Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley offer heavyweight support in an ingenious, carefully-crafted puzzle of a movie that only reveals its hand at the very end. The climactic revelation is both brilliantly satisfying and movingly sad.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta’s wise-cracking trigger-men are the beating heart of Quentin Tarantino’s gangster masterpiece, which takes the viewer through several gripping, entertaining and interweaving stories during its running time.
Whether Jules and Vincent are sharing in-car banter about European fast food, delivering fire and brimstone speeches at a doomed target, or getting into all kinds of trouble thanks to accidental kills and disastrous dates, the brilliant writing and sharply-directed drama is always utterly compelling.