17 December 2009

The Killers

Listening to: Camera Obscura, "French Navy."

I have a friend who loves heist movies. She likes the recruiting, the planning, and then the execution. Ocean's Eleven is obviously a prime example of such a film. Ever since hearing about her favorite sub-genre, I've always wanted one of my very own to love. I waited a long time and then like all great loves, it found me. It dawned on me the other day that I like movies featuring assassins. I know, totally unoriginal, but after watching the Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas movie, "Assassins," twice in the last week, I've decided that I'm a total sucker for this stuff. But it's not enough to pick a genre, especially such a broad one, you have to get more detailed.

Assassin movies I like generally feature heartless efficient killers who do their job but aren't sociopaths or insane. I like my assassins with good reasoning skills, some rules and boundaries ("No women, no kids"), and eventually a heart of gold. But they can't crippled with an abundance of guilt. Nobody likes watching a killer who likes to cry on the inside. Just do the damn job buddy. Of course, this could go against what I previously said about no sociopaths but it's admittedly a very fine line. If the assassin has a trusted assistant -- and not just a contact -- I like that a lot too. Also, I generally prefer guns over other weapons which is strange since I usually hate shoot'em ups.

My favorite hit men movies have to show either the background training of an assassin or give us some insight into what tricks an assassin might use in their daily work -- the most basic of these being sleeping on the ground or in a corner, with a gun in hand. This qualification is very important. For example, in Assassins, Antonio Banderas is constantly doing things like putting his hand on a car's hood to see if his target recently arrived (checking heat), or taking a whiff of perfume to remember the scent for tracking purposes (I will begin doing this immediately). Those are the types of details I like.

This is why the Bourne series didn't really excite me. Jason Bourne was just too well trained and I never got to see why. He'd just show up out of nowhere, kick some ass, and then disappear. I even enjoyed schlock like Wanted more just because of the training scenes.

I will spend this Christmas break catching up on some assassin classics and then begin a mission to compile a top ten list. So far my list features The Professional, Gross Pointe Blank, Ghost Dog, and I guess the Kill Bills. One assassin that's way overrated is Javier Bardem's menacing character in No Country for Old Men. Too mysterious, too hilarious with that hair cut. Anyway, already coming via Netflix are Enemy at the Gates, The Jackal, and La Femme Nikita. It's going to be an exciting holiday season.

Did you know that "Assassins" was the Wachowski brother's first sale in Hollywood? Joel Silver also bought the rights to The Matrix around the same time. Director Richard Donner said that if he had to make the movie again, he would have swapped the leads, which would have been really interesting. I think I'm going to cue the movie up again now that I've saved it on DVR.