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  • Nate Lemann

LISTS: ASSASSIN COMEDIES

Updated: 7 days ago

In honor of the Netflix release of Richard Linklater's "Hit Man", we countdown some of the all-time assassin and mercenary comedies in film.


By Nate Lemann

 

Films are judged how they operate as an Assassin / Mercenary / Hitman comedies. Excludes films that operate more as spy thrillers/comedies, even if there are assassins or mercenaries:


 

1. FARGO (1996) - DIR. COEN BROTHERS

Steve Buscemi & Peter Stormare in “Fargo”
Steve Buscemi & Peter Stormare in “Fargo”

The Coen Brothers pitch-perfect dark comedy is many things but is definitely a mercenary tale gone very wrong. Even if it’s not your favorite assassin comedy, it’s definitely the most beautifully shot, thanks to the incomparable Roger Deakins.


 

2. IN BURGES (2008) - MARTIN McDONAGH

Colin Farrell & Brendon Gleeson in "In Bruges"
Colin Farrell & Brendon Gleeson in "In Bruges"

This biting comedy put Martin McDonagh on the map, with two lead performances with great chemistry and one of Ralph Fiennes’s funniest roles to-date.


 

3. HIT MAN (2024) - RICHARD LINKLATER

Glen Powell in “Hit Man”
Glen Powell in “Hit Man”

Linklater’s latest is an absolute blast and one of the best comedies of 2024...and also the steamiest film released in quite some time.


 

4. THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021) - DIR. JAMES GUNN

The Squad in “The Suicide Squad”
The Squad in “The Suicide Squad”

James Gunn changed the trajectory of WB’s DC properties with this one, delivering the funnest entrant in the now former DCEU...so funny that it led to the new reboot DCU under Gunn’s watchful eye. It didn’t perform well during COVID but is one of hell of a rewatchable movie.


 

5. MR. & MRS. SMITH (2005) - DIR. DOUG LIMAN

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”
Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”

If you look up chemistry in a dictionary, an image from this movie will be in there. While the whole Pitt-Jolie situation is bit taboo these days, you can’t deny the connection in this film is off-the-charts hot.


 

6. DEADPOOL (2016) - DIR. TIM MILLER

Ryan Reynolds & Stefan Kapicic in “Deadpool”
Ryan Reynolds & Stefan Kapicic in “Deadpool”

Ryan Reynolds perfected the Deadpool characterization in this Marvel adaptation, nailing the irreverent spirit of the character while also delivering an earnest and endearing love story.


 

7. SMOKIN ACES (2006) - DIR. JOE CARNAHAN

Martin Henderson in “Smokin’ Aces”
Martin Henderson in “Smokin’ Aces”

The tone maybe uneven in this assassin collision course tale of a mob informant/Las Vegas personality who becomes the subject of a global manhunt, with all roads leading to a penthouse massacre in Lake Tahoe. That said, this film has many great set pieces and one hell of an emotional ending (with a powerhouse performance by the assassin comedy patron saint, Ryan Reynolds).


 

8. TRUE LIES (1994) - DIR. JAMES CAMERON

Arnold Schwarzenegger & Bill Paxton in “True Lies”
Arnold Schwarzenegger & Bill Paxton in “True Lies”

This action rom-com may be one of the more obscure films in Cameron’s filmography but it’s still a fun and wild actionpalozza, with great side character performances (looking at you, the great Bill Paxton).


 

9. DEADPOOL 2 (2018) - DIR. DAVID LEITCH

Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool 2”
Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool 2”

While this sequel leans a bit more into the over metaness of the character, it is still an action comedy with a lot of heart and great moments of levity (the X-Force sequence is a real highlight).


 

10. SHOOT 'EM UP (2007) - DIR. MICHAEL DAVIS

Clive Owen & Monica Bellucci in “Shoot ‘Em Up”
Clive Owen & Monica Bellucci in “Shoot ‘Em Up”

This forgotten action comedy isn’t a classic but it sure is fun, with Owen and Bellucci looking cool as hell while Paul Giamatti plays up the laughs as the big heavy in this fun romp.


 

11. RED (2010) - DIR. ROBERT SCHWENTKE

John Malkovich in “RED”
John Malkovich in “RED”

This underrated comedy brings together a great group of stars of a certain age (Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, etc.) for a fun assassin joint with plenty of violence and comedy.


 

12. THE MATADOR (2005) - DIR. RICHARD SHEPARD

Pierce Brosnan & Greg Kinnear in “The Matador”
Pierce Brosnan & Greg Kinnear in “The Matador”

This bizarre comedy is about a mild-mannered salesman who gets caught up in a dangerous underground world when he meets a charismatic hit man in a Mexican bar. Brosnan is funny and seductive all at once.


 

13. BULLET TRAIN (2022) - DIR. DAVID LEITCH

Brad Pitt in “Bullet Train”
Brad Pitt in “Bullet Train”

This is an underrated assassin collision course comedy with fun action, anchored by a great and funny Pitt lead performance, teaming up here with his longtime stuntman turned director.


 

14. THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (2000) - DIR. JONATHAN LYNN

Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis, & Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards”
Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis, & Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards”

This movie feels like the blueprint for the modern assassin comedy, with some of the wildest and funniest bits on this list. Peet steals the show, in my opinion.


 

15. LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN (2006) - DIR. PAUL McGUIGAN

Bruce Willis in “Lucky Number Slevin”
Bruce Willis in “Lucky Number Slevin”

This breezy mid-2000s crime comedy is light on its feet and more twisty than you’d expect, functioning as a tale of mistaken identity gone horribly wrong. Hartnett and Liu are very charming in this.


 

16. BOSS LEVEL (2021) - JOE CARNAHAN

“Boss Level”
“Boss Level”

This fun ode to street fighter gaming may not be the Mona Lisa, but it sure as hell has loads of humor and, surprisingly, a big heart. Grillo is very game in this.


 

17. AMERICAN ULTRA (2015) - DIR. NIMA NOURIZADEH

Kristen Stewart & Jesse Eisenberg in “America Ultra”
Kristen Stewart & Jesse Eisenberg in “America Ultra”

This movie asks the question what would happen if Cheech & Chong got green lit by a wet work squad. There are more twists and turns but it is at its heart a rom-com between two very, very dangerous stoners.


 

18. GROSS POINTE BLANK (1997) - DIR. GEORGE ARMITAGE

John Cusack in “Grosse Pointe Blank”
John Cusack in “Grosse Pointe Blank”

Cusack carries this oddball comedy with supernatural level charisma. Its overly goofy and stretches credulity beyond measure but hell if this isn’t the best lead performance in this niche genre.


 

19. CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002) - DIR. GEORGE CLOONEY

Drew Barrymore & Sam Rockwell in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”
Drew Barrymore & Sam Rockwell in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”

This Clooney-directed picture is quite odd and eccentric, much like the main character, played with effortless oddball charm by Sam Rockwell. The supporting cast is stacked but this lead performance distorts everything else around him, it's that strong.


 

20. THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD (2017) - DIR. PATRICK HUGHES

Samuel L. Jackson & Ryan Reynolds in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”
Samuel L. Jackson & Ryan Reynolds in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”

Reynolds and Jackson have fun banter in this light action comedy about a famed bodyguard who must escort his arch-nemesis hitman to testify at the Hague and take down a ruthless dictator.

 

Check out on Letterboxd here.


 

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Hi! I'm Nate and I love to talk all things movies. I'll be posting new reviews, recent rewatches, and much more on this site. So come on and let's talk movies! 

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