Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Movies About Assassins

This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is "movies about assassins". This was a trickier one to find options for, since I'm not sure how many movies fitting that criteria I've actually seen. I've found several that I've been meaning to see and keep putting off (Kill Bill, Léon: The Professional) and some I probably should see (Get Carter) I was also told that apparently bounty hunters don't count (which rules out For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). Still, I think I've found a few possible choices:

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

This is probably one of the strangest assassins you'll come across this week, from a weird film I had to watch for one of my classes. "Ghost Dog" is an African American hitman who has something of an obsession with Japanese culture. In particular, he strongly believes in the code of the Samurai to the point where he performs killings not out of any personal love for violence but because he believes he owes it to the mobster who saved his life that one time. He would allow himself to be shot dead in the middle of the street before turning on said mobster even after being betrayed. 


This was an interesting one. Hanna is a teenager who was raised from birth to be the perfect assassin. In fact technically even a little bit before her birth (we later find out she was one of a large number of genetic experiments and subsequently the only survivor). She is raised in isolation by her father who goes out of his way to perfect her survival skills before she is sent into the world. 

When she is, she's resourceful and deadly, a fact helped by her childlike naivety which she uses to her advantage (one of the first things she does when confronted by a person she thinks is the main villain is to start crying and then snap her neck when the latter tries to comfort her). She is still human, developing friendships and eventually starting to question her work, but it never stops her from her from ensuring that the corrupt CIA agent attempting to track her down gets what she deserves.

No Country for Old Men

Don't be fooled by that dorky-looking expression or the silly haircut. This movie's assassin, known by the name of Anton Chigurh, won actor Javier Bardem a deserved Oscar. This has got to be one of the most interesting assassins ever put on film in just how enigmatic he is. We never find out his full backstory or how he became the way he is, but from what we can tell he does have his standards. He has a set of rules that he follows devoutly, a moral code that only seems to make sense to him.

One moment he's violently massacring everyone in sight and the next he spares one man over a coin toss. We get brief glimpses into his psyche, and from what is shown he seems to be fairly messed up, but we can really only guess what truly goes through his head.

Many of the most memorable moments in the film are scenes involving Chigurh: the the scene where he strangles a hapless deputy while displaying a very disgruntled expression, the famous coin toss scene at the gas station where he essentially decides by way of chance whether to kill the clerk, the street shootout, the fate of Carson Welles, and even one of the final scenes in the movie.

To add to the enigma there's even a few people we never find out for sure if he killed. Many assume Carla Jean was murdered but we never find out for certain, and of course there was the scene where an accountant witnesses Chigurh murdering his boss. He asks him if he's going to kill him too, to which Chigurh replies with "That depends, did you see me?" The scene cuts and people still debate on whether the poor guy survived that encounter.


  1. Good call with Hanna and No Country for Old Men. I'd add In Bruges in there too, since that's one of my favorite films.

    1. I never did see In Bruges, but it does sound like an interesting film.

  2. Ghost Dog is one that I've heard good things, I've got to check it out sometime.

    Hanna is very pretty movie to look at, but unfortunately it's lacking something...which I can't pinpoint. It has been a long time since I've seen it, I can't remember what was the reason the experiments were killed off?

    Chigurh is a sociopath he doesn't care what happens one way or another, which is I'm guessing the reason for the coin tosses.

    1. Ghost Dog is a bit weird in its setup but it does have some good action and some creative homages to and twists on classic conventions.

      To be honest I'd have to see Hanna again to get the full backstory, but I think it was supposed to be implied that the experiments were illegal and they were killed off because the bad guys were trying to cover their tracks.

      Chigurh is no doubt a sociopath, but still a very complex one, which is what makes him so interesting as a character. His mind is clearly warped and distorted to a very specific way of thinking, but we can only speculate on precisely in what way.

  3. Some very interesting picks you have there. Ghost Dog is especially peculiar, but in a good way. No Country is brilliant. Hanna is the weakest of the three, but I still enjoyed it. I highly recommend seeing the ones you keep puuting off (Leon, etc) plus In Bruges.

    1. I've been meaning to see Leon for ages. A friend of mine showed a clip once in high school and I've meant to see it since but other films keep getting in the way. Maybe that one, Kill Bill, and In Bruges would be good choices for next year's Blind Spot.

  4. I still have to see Hanna. Javier Bardem was excellent in this role and brought a whole new world of evil. I agree with In Bruges-an under-rated film worth seeing and Matador with Pierce Brosnan. This role went against type and I thought it was well played