The 10 Most Brutal Whackings In Gangster Films

Brutal takes two forms: bloody as hell and cold blooded, both of which you'll find plenty of here.
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10. Tango left with his 20 percent (American Gangster - 2007)

Bumpy Johnson was the de facto crime boss in Harlem, but when he died he left behind a power vacuum. “It’s chaos. Every gorilla for hisself” was how Frank Lucas described it. Tango, a brute of a man saw himself as King Kong and was planning to take over Bumpy’s territory. In many respects he probably was the rightful heir to the Harlem throne, but he underestimated Frank Lucas.

To be king, Lucas needed to take out the biggest and baddest dude around and this was Tango. On a busy street, in the middle of the day Frank walked up to Tango pulled out his gun and held it to his head. “What the f*ck you gonna do? You wanna shoot me, in front of everybody?” Tango said. Frank’s only answer was to squeeze the trigger and blow his brains out. Everyone had been afraid of Tango, but now they were even more afraid of Frank Lucas.

9. Brett struck down by great vengeance and furious anger (Pulp Fiction - 1994)

Brett had gotten in way above his head. We don’t know how he got it, but he was in possession of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase and the briefcase contained something extra special (and ever so mysterious). So special that Marsellus had despatched his two hitmen to get it back and lay vengeance upon Brett.

One of his hired-guns was Jules Winnfield, he was a hitman with style. He chose to toy with Brett, like a little boy pulling the legs off a daddy-longlegs. Brett was already scared, but Jules took him to the very edge of his fears by interrogating him like a terrorist at Guantanamo Bay, tossing over the table; ensnaring him in word games; and shooting him in the leg, before finally unleashing the macabre quasi-Bible passage Ezekiel 25:17. At the end of the passage he and fellow hitman Vincent Vega emptied their weapons into him.

8. John Rooney - before the devil knew he was dead (The Road to Perdition - 2002)

If murder can be beautiful then Sam Mendes achieved it here, with a lot of help from his cinematographer Conrad L. Hall. On a dark, rain soaked street, lit only by a few street lamps Irish mob boss John Rooney accompanied by six of his men walked to his car. Rooney found his waiting driver dead behind the wheel and he instantly knew what was happening as he waited for the inevitable. The only sound in this scene is Thomas Newman’s Oscar nominated score, so we don’t hear the rattling shots, we only see the muzzle flare in the darkness from the Tommy Gun that was one-by-one laying waste to each of Rooney’s men until only he was left. The gunman, Michael Sullivan Sr then left the shadows and slowly approached Rooney, the man who’d been his surrogate father for as long as he could remember. The only words exchanged were Rooney’s “I’m glad it’s you” he said. Sullivan then, with tear filled eyes, opened fire and this time the music drops and we do hear the deafening sounds of the submachine gun. Beautiful.

7. Fredo Corleone gone fishing (The Godfather part 2 - 1974)

In the first Godfather movie, when Michael went out to Vegas to buy out Moe Green’s stake in the casino he warned his brother Fredo not to take sides against the family – a lesson he failed to learn.

In the sequel someone tried to assassinate Michael, shooting up his bedroom and both he and a pregnant wife Kay Corleone were lucky to escape. Michael eventually discovered that Jewish mogul-to-the-mob Hymen Roth ordered the hit – which was not entirely surprising. However, when a drunk Fredo let slip that he was already familiar with Johnny Ola, Roth’s right-hand man, Michael’s suspicions were confirmed, that it was his own brother who helped set up the hit.

Michael cut Fredo out of the family and Fredo foolishly believed that was his only punishment. However, after the death of their mother, Michael felt the time right was a little fratricide. He had Al Neri lure Fredo out in a boat on Lake Tahoe and like taking an old dog out behind the shed Neri put Fredo out of his misery and Michael was left to wonder if whacking his brother was really the best way to protect the family.

6. Billy Costigan the dearly departed (The Departed - 2006)

Billy Costigan was killed so fast he didn’t even know he was dead. His very dangerous undercover operation had come to end with the death of Irish mob boss Frank Costello and he’d just identified Costello’s mole in the State Police – Sgt. Colin Sullivan. He lured Sullivan out to a roof top and with a gun to his head he attempted to arrest him. He dragged him into an elevator, but when it reached the ground floor and the doors opened - BANG! – he was met with a bullet to his brain. Just like that, our hero was wiped out. Nobody saw it coming. Costigan had been to hell and back during his harrowing undercover op and just when it looked like all the loose ends were being tied up, Martin Scorsese whacked his good guy.

5. Nicky Santoro made an example of (Casino - 1995)

Nicky had this coming. He was a made guy in Chicago and the Outfit sent him to Las Vegas as their representative out there and to watch over Sam Rothstein as he ran the Outfit’s casino from which the mob skimmed millions of dollars.

However, being out from under the thumb of his mafia bosses, Nicky had his own ideas of how to run things in Sin City and he quickly became Las Vegas Boulevard’s biggest badass, making no effort to remain in the shadows. He courted publicity, left dead bodies in the street and very quickly got himself black listed from every casino in the country. On top of that he was sleeping with Rothstein’s missus. He knew himself he’d gone too far. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when he was lured into a corn field, way out in the sticks, where he and his brother Dominic were brutally beaten with baseball bats to within an inch of their lives and were then buried, still breathing.

4. Tony Montana playing rough with the cockroaches (Scarface - 1983)

Tony Montana’s last stand could almost be described as heroic if he was not a self-confessed bad guy. When his Miami compound was overrun by an army of Alejandro Sosa’s Bolivian Cartel assassins he was not gonna go down without a fight. With his own mini-arsenal at his disposal Tony selected a Colt AR-15 rifle with grenade launcher and demanded everyone say hello to his little friend. He took on all comers, laying waste to assault rifle carrying Bolivian’s here there and everywhere. Coked up to the eyeballs he appeared invulnerable and the enemy gunfire didn’t seem to slow him down. Even when he was out of ammo he stood up and just took the shots shouting “You think you can kill me with bullets?” and it was almost like they couldn’t. But be hadn’t banked on sneaky-assed assassin ‘The Skull’ lurking behind him and with a 12 gauge sawed-off doubled barrelled Zabala shotgun. He shot him in the spine blowing him over the balcony and into the pool at the bottom. The stuff of legend.

3. Al Capone bats himself the live-long day (The Untouchables - 1987)

When Al Capone made a point he made sure everybody got the message; he was not one for repeating himself. At the end of a private black-tie dinner he’d hosted for his fellow mobsters, he rose to his feet and began to talk about baseball, bat in hand, as a metaphor for individual glory and team work. The table of 23 sycophantic goombahs emphatically agreed with each point he made and overdid the laughs. But there was one bootlegger around the table who’d let the team down. His brewery had been very publically raided by Elliot Ness, embarrassing Capone and his regime. Capone halted his pacing around the table behind the bootlegger in question and smacked him on the back of the head with the bat. A second hit brought with it a sickening squelch and the repeated hits ensured he’d not be waking up in the morning with a bit of a headache. As the blood pooled over the crisp white tablecloth, Capone stood tall, puffed out his chest and looked around daring anyone to make the same mistake.

2. Billy Batts and lil’ Tommy’s shine box (Goodfellas – 1990)

Billy Batts had been in prison for a while, his suit was certainly out of date, and he’d missed lil Tommy grow up. When Batts was sent down Tommy was still spitshine Tommy turning shoes into mirrors – but in the here-and-now of 1970 he was a fully grown gangster with a Napoleon complex. If there was one thing grown up Tommy didn’t do (other than shine shoes anymore) was react well to having his balls busted, so when Batts told him “Now go home and get your f*cking shine box” his fuse was lit. Tommy was ushered out the bar, but he returned later when it was quiet.

A bleary-eyed Batts was taken unaware. Jimmy Conway grabbed hold of him and Tommy started beating him to a pulp. Jimmy got stuck in too, kicking seven shades of shit out of him, denting his shoes in the process. Believing him to be dead, they bundled Batts into the trunk of Henry’s car and took him into the woods to bury him. When they opened the trunk again and Batts was still moaning, Tommy pulled out his mother’s kitchen knife and stabbed him repeatedly and just in case he wasn’t dead enough Jimmy shot him four times.

1. Sonny Corleone on the causeway (The Godfather - 1972)

Don Barzini played Sonny Corleone like a fiddle. He was famed in the underworld for his short fuse and was over protective of his kid sister Connie; this made Sonny an easy mark. When he heard that his brother-in-law Carlo had given Connie yet another beaten the red mist descended and he was ready to finish what he started when he whooped Carlo’s ass previously with a bin lid and kicked him into the gutter with his black and white spats. When he jumped into his 1941 Lincoln Continental Coupé and sped away from the family compound he never considered he was being set up. At least not until he stopped at the causeway toll booth and the attendant ducked out of sight, but by then it was too late. Barzini’s men blocked him in on both sides and Tommy gun touting triggermen shot more holes in him then Bonnie and Clyde’s Ford V8. Killing Sonny, the acting boss of the Corleone family was a major coup for Barzini in the war of the five families.

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