Considering they make a living by murdering mafiosos and cutting down crime lords, it’s surprising that most Hollywood hit men are such good family members. Perhaps guilt from their chosen lines of work causes them to be particularly affectionate, or maybe audiences simply can’t handle a protagonist who doesn’t have some desire to shack up and settle down. Either way, these assassins are determined to play house as well as they play cops and robbers.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
They read the Bible. They talk about cheeseburgers. They like to play around and sometimes that playing around involves an accidental shooting. Vincent and Jules seem more like overgrown siblings than colleagues, stuck in an eternal playpen playing with real guns instead of toy guns. Mom should have washed their mouths out with soap — but it makes for a good movie.
The Professional (1994)
Leon the Professional is a loner whose greatest love in life is a potted plant, until he meets the recently–orphaned Mathilda, played by a 13–year–old Natalie Portman. Bent on revenge against the corrupt DA agent who killed her family, Mathilda seduces Leon into becoming her adopted father and reluctant teacher. Some might attest that she seduces him in other ways as well, given her Lolita–esque performance of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” during a game of charades between father and daughter.
We get a hint of El Mariachi’s desire to be a family man in the first chapter of director Robert Rodriguez’s trilogy, but it’s in Desperado that his commitment to settling down becomes abundantly clear. The Mexican assassin chases after the heart of Salma Hayek for nearly two hours, ultimately killing his brother in order to save her life. Years later, in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), El Mariachi seeks revenge on the man who killed his wife and daughter.
Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai (1999)
At first glance, Ghost Dog seems more like an enigmatic uncle than a father figure. A black assassin who strictly follows the code of the samurai, Forest Whitaker’s silent hit man initially prefers the company of pigeons to people. But when he meets the young Pearline, Ghost Dog takes her under his wing, passing on his samurai ways to her by the film’s end.
Road to Perdition (2002)
The tangled filial connections surrounding the mob in this gangster movie are best summed up by Paul Newman early in the movie when he says that “sons are put on the earth to trouble their fathers.” When Michael Sullivan Jr. discovers his father (played by Tom Hanks) is a hit man for the Irish mob, a crisis of character ensues. Determined to save his son from a life of crime, the elder Sullivan turns his back on his own surrogate father, mob boss John Rooney (Newman) and tries to murder Rooney’s son.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
The poor, nameless Bride learns that she wasn’t the only one who survived an attempted assasination in the second half of Quentin Tarantino’s epic masterpiece. Turns out, her in utero baby crawled her way out of her mother’s womb in a manner not unlike her mama’s busting out of a coffin and clawing her way up to the earth. Like mother, like daughter — let’s just hope Kiddo Jr. chooses a different career path.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)
At first glance, John and Jane Smith (ironically played by a pre–marriage Brangelina) seem headed for divorce. Given that both of them are hired assassins, forced dinner conversation and lackluster bedroom activity just don’t cut it. But apparently nothing makes the heart grow fonder than fending off waves of attackers and post–shootout sex. By the end of the movie, the happy couple is as strong as ever.