My Favourite Marksmen
Posted on Friday September 18, 2009, 14:31 by Sam Toy in Empire States
Yesterday I was finally able to indulge a pleasure I’d been anticipating since the advent of blu-ray: revisiting Leon* in beautiful, cornea-frying hi-def. I was instantly rewarded - this was the first time I had been able to discern the movie’s complete title (that tiny writing in the bottom right hand corner of the title screen reads “Visa No. 82525”. Who knew? Well, ok, some of you, and yes, my vision ain’t great). Anyway, to paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking it up (especially the utterly superior director’s cut).
But for all the gorgeous cinematography, the elegantly simple screenplay and pitch-perfect performances, I have to admit that the biggest reason I love Besson’s film is, quite simply, that I dig marksmen. Not even necessarily assassins – I just really admire a crack shot. It got me thinking for some time – long enough to compile a Rob Gordon list of my all-time, top five favourite movie sharp shooters.
The choices are based as much on character as much as ability, and by such rationale, under consideration but failing to make the list were Wanted’s Wesley Anderson, whom I feel ends up a bit of a prick with his final line “What the fuck have you done lately?” (we aren’t all miserable caterpillars like you were, Wes), and Inglourious Basterds’ Frederik Zoller, who likewise has the proficiency, but at the end of the day, even beyond being a Nazi, is a bit of a git. Wolverine’s Agent Zero and Shoot Em Up’s Smith both have the goods, but the movies don’t feel up to scratch, so they don’t make the cut. Michael Sullivan (Road To Perdition) and Bob Lee Swagger (Shooter) are both a bit dour, and Jason Bourne – much as I love the character and despite his obviously amazing skills – somehow just didn’t quite seem like the right for this list; I got the same feeling about Ah Jong in The Killer. Which leaves:
5. Martin Q. Blank- Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
You have to appreciate a guy who’s professional enough to wash his eye before he takes a shot. 11 years on and John Cusack’s assassin is still very much the guy that everyone wishes they were by the time high school reunion time rolls around.
4. The Jackal - The Jackal (1973)
He’s often overlooked, but Edward Fox’s mercenary must go down as one of the baddest asses in movie history – a guy who will charm, or kill, or both, at the drop of a hat to get the job done; the very definition of cold-blooded.
3. Jim/The Waco Kid - Blazing Saddles (1974)
I can’t have a list of sharp-shooters and not include a cowboy. Other contenders for the list were Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday from Tombstone, and The Man With No Name, but you really can’t go past Gene Wilder’s smile after he’s shot the pistols out of the hands of his enemies in the blink of an eye.
2. Martin Riggs - Lethal Weapon (1987)
“When I was nineteen, I did a guy in Laos from a thousand yards out. Rifle shot in high wind. Maybe eight, or even ten guys in the world could’ve made that shot... It’s the only thing I was ever good at.” I like this even more than Harry Callahan’s .44 Magnum speech.
1. Leon - Leon (1994)
King of the hill, top of the heap, Jean Reno’s lonely bullet artisan gets sequence after sequence to display his awesome prowess with an equally impressive weapons collection, but it’s probably more down to character that he gets to wear the crown. Leon is pretty much a perfect creation, living by a simple, strict code and without making any real moral judgements until he meets Mathilda (and even then, it’s the right one). He’s quiet and basic, but he’s not stupid, and he has the courage of his convictions: a guy who’ll walk into a station full of corrupt cops, picka few off and snatch back his girl is always a classy bloke.
*That's "The Professional" for American and Australian - and possibly elsewhere? - readers.
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Posted on Sunday September 20, 2009, 18:40
Hate to be picky. But the protagonists name in Wanted was Wesley GIBSON.
Posted on Sunday September 20, 2009, 20:11
wheres Ghost Dog?
Posted on Sunday September 20, 2009, 21:31
The great thing about top 5's is that you don't have to agree with them, just appreciate them!
Nice job Sam, I think i'd be fairly similar in my list but I think I'd have to include Lady Lara Croft as the token woman (yes, shite movies but still she's gotta be there) and Han Solo for THAT exchange with Gredo!
Posted on Sunday September 20, 2009, 21:35
William Munny from Unforgiven deserves a mention. May be a bit "too dour" for the top five but he's my personal fave. Also that dude from Saving Private Ryan who shoots the Nazi THROUGH THE SCOPE! Uncalled for but definitely awesome.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 02:39
I agree, Barry Pepper's scripture-quoting sniper from Saving Private Ryan should be in there.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 09:21
Thomas Beckett (Tom Berenger) in Sniper was a badass marksman should possibly have been considered
also possibly Both Jude Law and Ed Harris' characters in enenmy at the gates
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 11:16
Erm, shouldn't Vincent (Tom cruise - Collateral) be on this list? I read that he fires five well aimed shots in 1,5 seconds during the "Yo homey, that my briefcase?" scene.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 12:51
What about the Sundance Kid? Shooting guns along the floor is pretty cool. And he's a cowboy. And he's not Gene Wilder. All positives in my book.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 13:05
the boondock saints have to get a shout. knockin' off bad guys with as much prowess as a new born baby flying a space-shuttle, but still gettin the job done. accents are more than questionable, but they still rock.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 13:26
Barry Pepper in Saving Private Ryan. Love that dude, even if myth busters did show its impossible to shoot a bullet through a sniper scope.
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 13:42
Old McDonald had a farm ee i ee i o. And on that farm he shot some guys. Badda boom badda bing bang boom
Can't believe Michael McManus never made the cut....
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Oswald was a fag
the ageless stranger
Posted on Monday September 21, 2009, 15:51
Agreed, Ghost Dog needs to be up there. The scene where he kills two bearhunters is, I dare say, on a par with Leon in terms of moral code.
And of course, Barry Pepper was just a kickass sniper.