Female assassin flicks are a genre of their own, including some of the best, most memorable, and most badass ladies in film history.
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One of the most popular moviesto hitNetflixover the past year or so wasAva, the female assassin thriller starring Jessica Chastain in the titular role. Directed by Tate Taylor, the plot follows Ava, a deadly lone assassin who embarks on the largest job of her career following an eight-year vacation as a professional murderer.
The tale takes all sorts of twists and turns but the real highlight is getting to witness Chastain at her best.
Her role as the titular Ava puts her in some pretty exclusive company among the best female assassins to ever be portrayed on film.
Updated on November 11, 2021, by Kevin Pantoja:
There’s a lengthy history of female assassin flicks that a lot of audience members might not have noticed. Some of these girl assassin flicks trace back decades but the majority of fantastic ones have really appeared in recent years. It seems like there’s more of a demand than ever to see fierce women depicted on-screen and people are delighted about it. Although selecting out the finest female assassinin movies might be a difficult, nearly impossible endeavor, you can rest guaranteed that they are going to be from this ferocious collection of women.
1. Ava – Ava (2020)
Casting Jessica Chastain as the principal character in Ava was a stroke of genius because she has already played tough women in lots of other films. Whether it’s a superhero movie villain inDark Phoenix or a take no prisoners hustler inMolly’s Game, Chastain brings it on the screen. Ava is her most violent character for sure though.
There are scenes in this movie that are quite shockingin terms of how graphic they go. Ava holds nothing back as she strikes out everyone in her path. That includes a rather spectacular fight against Colin Farrell’s Simon.
2. Samantha Caine – The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)
Also starring in Ava is Geena Davis, who Tate Taylor must have cast on the strength of her performance as the amnesiac assassin Samantha Caine in The Long Kiss Goodnight.
Directed by Davis’ then-husband Renny Harlin from a Shane Black script, Samantha Caine is a suburban schoolteacher who begins to remember bits and pieces of her prior life after banging her head. When she comes to, she finds she is a highly competent government assassin whose previous partners are now out to kill her and keep her silent for good. Of course, Caine has other intentions.
3. Anna – Anna (2019)
If anything has to do with action that will leave you breathless, there’s a decent chance that Luc Besson is involved. The filmmaker is behind such classics asLeon: The Professional andThe Fifth Element and in 2019, he wrote and directedAnna.
The movie follows the titularAnna (Sasha Luss), a woman who escapes a life of domestic abuse and joins the KGB. After years as a trained assassin, she seeks an out but isn’t granted it, setting her on a mission to liberate herself. Along with her violent temperament in the field, Anna also displays herself to be among the brightest killers out there.
4. Mary Goodwin – Proud Mary (2018)
It seems like the amazing Taraji P. Henson has played every kind of role out there from a hip-hop entrepreneur to a police officer to a clever mathematician. She added hitwoman to her remarkable repertoire in 2018 by portraying Mary Goodwin inProud Mary.
Along the same lines as several previous female assassin movies,Proud Mary shows the protagonist take care of a small kid following a situation where a mission goes bad. Though reviews weren’t terrific, Henson performed her customary strong performance and Mary had some memorable action sequences.
5. Kate – Kate (2021)
Following the popularity ofAva, Netflix looked to bring morewomen assassin movies to the streaming site. 2021 saw two of them, with one beingKate, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the titular heroine. Some critics believed that this movie touched too many clichés from comparable films.
However, one thing that helped Kate stand out was that she was an adept sniper, though her greatest scenes were when she got up up and personal with her targets. While on a mission to execute a yakuza leader, Kate is poisoned and has one day to figure out the truth and obtain retribution. Along the way, she has some genuinely badass moments and takes on a young protégé.
6. Sam – Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
The other lady assassin movie to hit Netflix in 2021 debuted a few months previously but was welcomed with a better reception from critics.
Gunpowder Milkshake revolves on Sam (Karen Gillan), a hitwoman who partners up with her mother (Lena Headey) and other ladies to protect a young child.
The great twist in this movie was thatSam was the one who murdered the father of the girl she is now protecting. That built for complex connections but of course, the action parts are where this film shines. Watching Sam dispatch of many attackers whilemost of her body was numbed made for a fascinating scene, while her joining forces with the other women was another highlight.
7. Cataleya Restrepo – Colombiana (2011)
A handful of high-quality female assassin movies were released in 2011, including Olivier Megaton’s Colombiana. Written by the master of the female assassin subgenre, Luc Besson, the picture stars Zoe Saldana as an ice-cold professional hit-woman.
Upon witnessing her parents’ barbaric murder as a toddler in Colombia, Cataleya grows up to swear retribution on those who took her most precious relatives away. Cataleya becomes one of the world’s most formidable assassins under the guidance of her uncle, as well as a moonlighting murderer out to enrage the mafia who killed her parents’ life.
8. Lorraine Broughton – Atomic Blonde (2017)
While she already portrayed a list-worthy hit-woman in ÆonFlux in 2005, Charlize Theron upped the assassinating ante in Atomic Blonde, helmed by David Leitch ofJohn Wick fame.
Lorraine Broughton (Theron) is a top-ranking MI6 Agent who utilizes her disarming sexuality as a weapon when dispatched to Berlin to investigate the murder of a colleague. When she isn’t killing with a look, she engages in hand-to-hand battle or wields a high-tech arsenal to slay legions of disloyal double agents.
9. Lucy Miller – Lucy (2014)
While Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional is one of the all-time best movies on the trade of assassination, the film’s female killer Mathilda (Natalie Portman) isn’t all that formidable herself. Therefore, Lucy Miller makes more sense to add.
Besson’s Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson in the title character as an ordinary person who is changed into a super-assassin upon consuming a radical new synthetic drug after a smuggling scheme goes awry. With her newfound powers intact, Lucy starts a relentless revenge campaign on those who made her carry the drug in the first place.
10. Sook-hee / Chae Yeon-soo – The Villainess (2017)
As noted, Luc Besson is highly influential when it comes to the genre of female assassin flicks and that is obvious inThe Villainess. According to writer and director Jung Byung-gil, it was Besson’sLa Femme Nikita that inspired this picture.
This South Korean action thriller stars Kim Ok-vin as the protagonist, a lady who was groomed as a killer since childhood. However, she wants a fresh life, especially after giving birth to a child of her own. The Villainesswas lauded for the action scenes and characters, while also apparently garnering a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.
11. Fox – Wanted (2008)
Angelina Jolie has played ultra-skilled assassins multiple times in her career. Her first came via Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2005 and her last in the 2010 picture Salt. However, it’s her appearance as the mentoring hit-woman Fox in Wanted that featured her best female assassin.
Wanted recounts the exploits of Wesley (James McAvoy), a humdrum office employee who one day learns his father was a clandestine hitman. With the help of Sloan (Morgan Freeman) and the sly Fox, Wes eventually taps into his supernatural assassin powers in order to replace his father.
12. Hanna – Hanna (2011)
In the movie that spawned a 2019 TV series of the same name, Saoirse Ronan appears as Hanna, a smart 16-year-old girl groomed as a cold-blooded assassin by her father Erik (Eric Bana) while living in rural Finland.
Directed by Joe Wright, the plot opens up when Erik sends Hanna on her first mission in Europe. As Hanna keeps a low-profile while on a collision course with the equally-icy intelligence operative Melissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), she begins to evaluate her upbringing and doubt her purpose in the world.
13. Nikita – La Femme Nikita (1990)
In a narrative that inspired an American remake and two TV shows, Luc Besson’s Nikita includes one of the all-time best female assassins ever recorded on film. French actress Anne Parillaud stars as the titular killer who assumes a new identity en route to assassinating her assailants.
Nikita is a hardened criminal who is given the option of going to jail or becoming a trainedkillerfor the French government. When she opts for the latter, she demonstrates spectacular talents as an unscrupulous murderer while taking down one mark after another.
14. Beatrix Kiddo – Kill Bill (2003-2004)
With the only objective to Kill Bill in Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts masterwork, Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thruman) establishes her ferocious reputation as a top-tier female assassin.
Kiddo not only succeeds in her heroic goal but she accomplishes so by waylaying a series of collegiate hitmen and hitwomen in the process. Rather than using high-tech weaponry, Kiddo’s form of assassination comprises Samurai swords and violent hand-to-hand combat. After completing hard training in Japan, Kiddo comes out stronger and more dangerous than ever.
15. Yuki Kashima – Lady Snowblood (1973)
Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Chan-wook Park’s Lady Vengeance trilogy owe a great deal to the two Lady Snowblood Japanese flicks from the 1970s, which feature one of the first and still the best female assassins of all time.
Meiko Kaji plays Yuki Kashima, a stunning Japanese woman groomed as a child to become one of the deadliest professional assassins alive. As Yuki matures and acquires the ability to assassinate a mark in a matter of moments, she sets out to serve horrific comeuppance to the robbers that devastated her family as a youngster.