My very first Phenomenal 5 looked at movie hitmen. Looking back on it I decided it needed a reboot. First there were a few slight changes to be made but it also got no traffic whatsoever. Hey, I was just starting, ok? Well today we are looking back at that topic. Now the job of hitman has been a popular motion picture occupation for years so it’s worth checking out some of the best. I want this to be a pretty diverse list so I had to leave off some REALLY good one. Considering that I won’t be calling this the definitive list. But there’s no denying that these five movie hitmen are most certainly phenomenal.
#5 – MICHAEL SULLIVAN, SR (“Road to Perdition”)
I never really envisioned Tom Hanks as a mob hitman/enforcer. That was before 2002’s “Road to Perdition”. He nails the role of Michael Sullivan, Sr. who, with young son in hand, goes on a revenge-fueled mission to pay back those who killed his wife and younger son. Hanks melds perfectly into the Depression-era setting and he’s one tommy gun-toting father that I wouldn’t want after me. It may not sound like the perfect mix on paper, but Hanks was a phenomenal choice.
#4 – T-800 (“Terminator”, “T2”, “T3”)
Arnold Schwarzenegger has several big-time action roles under his belt but none are as memorable as the robotic hitman sent back in time to kill the mother of John Connor. Of course in later movies he would serve as protector. He may be a cyborg of few words (and in Schwarzenegger’s case that’s a good thing) but he won’t quit his mission until either it or he is done. Whether he’s riding a Harley to George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” or wiping out an entire police station, the T-800 means business.
#3 – JASON BOURNE (“The Bourne Trilogy”)
While Jason Bourne is a man searching for his true identity, we learn really, really quick that he has some serious skills. This one time CIA killing machine turned into their ultimate nightmare once he went “off the grid”. Bourne showed off through jaw-crushing fight scenes, intense car chases, and his amazing ability to fly under the radar. Bourne isn’t to be messed with. Just look at the trail of broken noses, snapped necks, and wrecked cars if you need proof. He has to be on this list.
#2 -LEON (“The Professional”)
How can you not love Jean Reno’s low-key but deadly Leon in 1994’s “The Professional”. We get to see just how well he knows his unique craft through some fantastic action sequences. But what makes Leon so endearing is his relationship with 12-year-old Mathilda played by Natalie Portman in her motion picture debut. Leon has all the tools to make him a phenomenal movie hitman but it’s that tender heart and his appreciation for a good glass of milk that sets him apart.
#1 – ANTON CHIGURH (“No Country for Old Men”)
Even though he sports one of the worst haircuts in motion picture history, Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh is brutal and terrifying . But he’s also an enthralling character and is involved in all of “No Country for Old Men’s” best scenes. The Coen brothers’ signature dark humor make Chigurh even more fascinating to watch. Bardem won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance and once you see the movie it’s easy to see why Anton Chigurh is at the top of this list.
So there are my picks for phenomenal movie hitmen. Clearly there are some great ones not on the list. Agree or disagree? Who did I miss? Leave your comments below and share who you would have included.
Great list! Love Road to Perdition!
Thanks man. I love it too. It’s funny, I was really late catching up with Perdition. Boy I’m glad I finally did.
Fantastic list! Glad to see Leon get a shout-out.
Appreciate it. Leon absolutely had to get a shout out. He is one of the best for sure.
This is a great list, Keith. I would have also included Brad Pitt’s Jackie Cogan in Killing Them Softly as one of the greatest. The movie may not have stacked up to as much as I would have wanted, but damn is Pitt good in that role. Every moment he’s on screen there’s that dreadful feeling.
Thanks! I ended up missing Killing Them Softly. Maybe I should give it a watch!
What about Agent 47, the actual Hitman 🙂
I think is game outdid his movie! 😉
Ah! LOVE Jason Bourne on this list (big fan) and Anton Chigurh! Awesome list here Keith!
Thanks. For me Chigurh is just impossible to beat. He’s simply the best.
He was a totally different one hey!
You haven’t seen Michael Shannon in “The Iceman” yet. I think you may be revising your list in the future. 🙂
Maybe replace the terminator b/c he’s technically a machine, and not a human, and he comes in different models, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick, or Kristanna Lokken. lol.
Didn’t really limit it to just humans. I think the terminator fits the description, at least in the first movie. That’s basically what he was, a futuristic hitman.
Oh, I agree with you, but as I said wait until you see Michael Shannon in “The Iceman” and one of those guys is going to get edged out, which is why I made the case for the Terminator, and not just b/c they were cyborgs, but b/c there were so many different models it’s harder to narrow down. 🙂
I love Shannon. Talk about an underrated talent. Iceman was here but had a short stay. I never was able to catch up with it. Anxious to see it.
Yeah it was in my town for a week, and I jumped on it. Video release September 3rd.
Nice picks. Can’t disagree with Anton Chigurh being number one, he’s a great character for sure.
Thanks. Anton is the man!
That’s a good one!
The only one I haven’t seen is No Country for Old Men but I agree w/ the rest wholeheartedly! I’d think James Bond can be considered a hitman as well, MI-6’s greatest assassin, no? I mean, what with the license to kill and all 😀
LOL. Had to toss 007 in there didn’t ya? 😉
Nice choices Keith it’s hard to argue those picks. And if I did I’d be scared to get ‘removed’ by one of them. 🙂
Erased in a heartbeat! Don’t question them!!!!!
I’m glad you listed Michael Sullivan–RTP is a great film and one of my favorite roles of Tom Hanks.
Its so good isn’t it. You’re right, Hanks really nails it!
First thought was Tom Hanks from Road to Perdition. Then as I was scrolling down your list I was thinking ‘if anyone is above Leon I will not be happy!’ but it turns out you picked the right man! I loved Bardem in NCFOM, he’s the main reason I’ve watched it so many times!
Same with me! Bardem is the best in the film. From his brutality to dark humor. Sooo good.
The Bride, Scaramanga, The Jackal, Joe (Old and Young from Looper), Jack Carter.
When did freelance assassin become a job that was in a growth industry? It seems like every other movie features a paid killer.
Great list! Agree on all of these picks, and it’s nice to see Chigurh at #1. I’m reading through that book right now and can’t wait to revisit the film afterward.
The book is fabulous. It’s amazing just how much the Coens stayed faithful to it.
O-Ren Ishii! 🙂
Nice #1. Love the terminator. Also Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp fiction!
Sam is a good one. And aside from Bardem he had the best hair.
Lol Terminator 😀
In a friend of Sarah Conner
Nice list. Love Leon. Suppose Hitgirl doesn’t count. For some reason nothing coming to mind now except Deadpool, which doesn’t exist as a movie (yet… and no, X-Men Origins: Wolverine does NOT count).
I agree, Origins doesn’t count. They literally but he’d the Deadpool character. Not a fan of that film.
Such a great selection here, especially love seeing Leon and Chigurh making the list!
Does Bond count as a hitman? If so he should be on here!
He could be considered a hitman for sure. But I went with the more straight-line definition I guess. Tons of good ones out there to consider.
I think the Terminator is a cheat since he is a machine, and in the end fails at his mission when you come to think about it–at least in the first film.
My substitution would be Charles Bronson as the “Mechanic”
Terminator is a hitman by our definition. I’ve never really heard it defined in terms of being a real man, just in the occupation and mission they are carrying out. I also never really weighed in the success of the mission. Just how great they were on screen.
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