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Following a John Wick binge, I've realized how used to the idea of freelance assassins getting sent assignments or bounties from some sort of guild and/or personal agent. We saw that in Hitman (2007) and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015), both based on the video game Hitman: Codename 47 (2000), where the main character "is shown to be working for the covert International Contract Agency (ICA) under his handler Diana Burnwood."

Then I happened to watch Gross Pointe Blank (1997), where freelance assassin Martin Blank again gets assignments from a handler he mostly interacts with by phone.

So there's a long history of hitmen, ninjas, and other freelance thugs in movies and TV, but how early do we get this idea of a freelance killer remotely getting assignments, as opposed to, say, getting a personal call from a mob boss?

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