Ben Affleck puts Batman v Superman behind him with latest movie The Accountant, a thriller about the murky underworld of hired guns and hits.
Assassination has long fascinated Hollywood; from fiction like Léon and Collateral, to true-life drama like JFK – paid killers are enticing fodder for movie makers.
But just how easy is to order a hit? And how accurate are big screen depictions of assassins? loaded has a lot of burning questions on the matter – fortunately we had former MI6 intelligence officer Nicolas Anderson (an alias, in case you were wondering) on hand to reveal the secrets of assassinations.
How easy is it to order a hit?
“It depends who’s ordering it. Inexperienced spouses blind with jealousy tend to mistakenly hire a policeman working undercover who were looking to trap them breaking the law.
“Mafia and crime organisations always have an in-house scumbag or three willing to undertake a rub-out for a good bonus in cash. Governments tend to use those from other governments if it is to take place on the former’s territory.”
What would the average hit cost?
“I really don’t know. Everybody and everything has its price or greed factor as it were. The most I ever heard of in my MI6 career was $25 million. And that was back in the 80s.”
How do assassins get recruited?
“Two or three places standout more than other places. Antwerp in Western Europe, Sofia in Eastern Europe and most South American capitals are known for available hired guns who ask no questions.
“They’d have to know you or your representatives well before talking to you. As time has gone by they have got more sophisticated in their dealings, almost to the point of being untraceable.”
Do celebrities ever get targeted for assassination?
“No celebrities. Politicians, yes. History is littered with the names of political figures who were bumped off for their beliefs and/or perhaps being in opposition to the powerful.
“If anybody was so interested to gather the names of persons, all you have to do is Google ‘assassinations’ plus the name of the country or continent and the list is long. The last politician to die in the UK for what she believed in was this year. Her name was Jo Cox.”
What are the most common mistakes in movies about assassins?
“Too many to mention! Some examples for you: the bad guy is noticeable looking in his dress code when the idea is to be the opposite in appearance; the switch on the the gun they fire from is often on ‘off’; they can perform actionable deeds not known to humans; when faced in martial arts situations they can take out many others when the reality is two at most.
“Probably the most glaring is the distance a shot from the piece used by an assassin could go. The best snipers I’ve ever seen from the British armed forces use a L115A3 long-range .338 Lapua Magnum rifle equipped with a telescopic sight that uses 8.59 cartridges.
“Its most effective range is 1,640 yards… not anything like a couple of miles as one sees in movies. On this topic the use of the words marksman and sharpshooter is also incorrect in films. Understand that a marksman is called so because his or her accuracy is 23-29 times out of 40 while a sharpshooter is 30 to 35 times out of 40 attempts. A real expert sniper is 36-40 out of 40.”
What’s your favourite assassin movie?
“I watch on average one film a year so I haven’t seen that many. But to answer your question my favourite is Edward Fox in the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal. I call France home and it is long rumoured that General de Gaulle survived an assassination attempt.
“In his screen role Fox dressed and convincingly behaved as a disabled veteran with a walking stick to get as close to the target he possibly could. Nobody present would have thought an old man wearing some medals limping along would be a threat but he was.”