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Why are 21st-century cinema assassins so jaded? Even James Bond (and let’s face it, he does rub out people for money) isn’t exactly full of pep, carrying around, as he does, a lot of emotional baggage and seeming always to be stifling a sigh.

There was a time when assassins killed targets without blinking and enjoyed themselves. Consider Clemenza in “The Godfather” who brought home a box of Cannoli for his wife after shooting a guy in the head. Or the female assassin in “Nikita,” who pulled off a job in a hotel bathroom wearing just a cherry-print bra and panties as her boyfriend waited on the bed just a couple of meters from the door.

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