With Pulp Fiction out on Blu-ray, it's time to champion the Top 10 contract killers of all time... men and women who make death their brazen business.
When, exactly, did the hired killer become cool? Before the advent of the assassin as superhero, the media made these contract cretins out to be exactly what they were/are - murderous madmen (and occasionally, women) without a moral compass or a compassionate bone in their blood spattered body. As the money-oriented muscle for their various 'bosses,' they belied a basic human desire (vigilante justice) while doing so in a highly questionable manner. And yet, in 2011, the hitman is a cultural icon, a legitimate lynchpin to all manner of entertainment types. From action to drama, comedy to something more complicated, these thugs generate as much buzz and dead bodies.
Of course, picking the cream of the cinematic crop in this category requires a bit of historical hindsight. While there have been interesting killers in the past (Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death. for example), we are keeping our choices restricted to the '60s through now. This way, we can address the coming of age of the paid assassin. Similarly, we will deal with both the effectiveness of the character as well as the quality of the actor's performance. Finally, we have grouped together those who are inseparable, either narratively or acknowledged as part of movie mythology. The result is a collection of 12 game Grim Reapers who seemingly enjoy their work, if not the dead end dimension of the occupation, beginning with a beguiling bad guy that many may have forgotten: