Chances are the first movie assassin names that pop into your head are The Jackal, Martin Q. Blank or El Mariachi. What do they have in common, other than flashy names and a predilection for gunning down their on-screen enemies? They’re all men.

What about the ladies? Beatrix Kiddo, Charlie Baltimore or Jane Smith?

Jean Luc Goddard said, “All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,” and often these days filmmakers are placing that gun in the hands of female film assassins. Nikita is back on the tube and earlier this year Saoirse Ronan played a deadly 16-year-old in Hanna. This weekend, Avatar’s Zoe Saldana is back as a stone-cold killer in Colombiana.

As Charlie Baltimore, Geena Davis created one of the screen’s most loved female assassins in The Long Kiss Goodnight. Suffering from amnesia, when her past catches up with her she flip flops from suburban mom to killer. Best Line? “They’re gonna blow my head off, you know. This is the last time I’ll ever be pretty.”

Angelina Jolie’s deadly demeanour has pumped up several action movies. Lara Croft was a gun-slinging super-heroine, but she’s also played assassins in two movies.

In Mr. and Mrs. Smith she’s a hitlady assigned to kill her own on-screen (and future real life) partner, Brad Pitt. “Still alive, baby?” she purrs after trying to shoot him through a wall.

Also, as Fox in Wanted she was a member of the Fraternity, a deadly group of killers with the useful ability to shoot around corners. Best line? “We kill one, and maybe save a thousand. That’s the code of the Fraternity.”

The highest body count must go to Beatrix Kiddo, played by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. As a bride done wrong by her former Deadly Viper Assassination Squad colleagues, (including Vivica A. Fox who plays Vernita Green and Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii), Kiddo slices and dices her way through more than 100 opponents.

But the two most unlikely female assassins on film were found in Leon: The Professional and Kick-Ass. In the former, Natalie Portman was a 12-year-old who learns how to kill from her teacher, Léon (Jean Reno), a skillful but sensitive hitman.

In Kick-Ass, a 2010 action-comedy starring Nicolas Cage and Chloë Moretz, Hit Girl (Moretz) asks her father (and assassin mentor) for a Benchmade model 42 butterfly knife for her eleventh birthday.

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