In Skyfall, the contract killer Patrice travels to Shanghai where he forces entry into a skyscraper and shoots a man in an adjacent building with his sniper rifle, when he is attacked and inadvertedly thrown out of the window by Bond.

Patrice (image source: official international trailer)

The assassionation target is in a room with several people, including Sévérine, none of whom seem to be surprised by the fact that the target ends up with a bullet in his head the second he is being shown an obviously valuable painting.

Later Bond finds out that Sévérine hired Patrice for the hit, leaving me with the following questions:

  • Did the target want to die? Was it an arranged suicide by an art lover? If so, why go through all the trouble? Flying in a contract killer, breaking into a building, killing a guard. A simple bullet in the head from a gun would have been so much easier. What's the point?
  • If it was murder instead, still the question: If everyone in the room was in on it, why all the trouble? There is a high chance that something could go wrong. Patrice could miss or trigger an alarm while entering the building. Killing the target from 1m distance seems a lot easier. Also it would save a lot of money. (Patrice was paid multiple million dollars for the contract)
  • I didn't know what this scene was about. The explanation that it was to avoid leaving evidence pointing to the murder by those in the room does not make sense. Easier to kill and lots of ways to do it to get away with it close up. The use of a sniper would be just plain dumb. Besides, there was nothing in the murder of art dealer for a valuable painting that has anything to do with the plot. Utterly irrelevant. Art theft? Where did that idea come from. I like the bread crumb theory posted above. That explanation is the only one that makes sense. Thanks for posting that.
    – user20606
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


First, I just want to note that I've only seen the film once, so I'm going by memory.

Remember that the whole plot, from the youtube videos to the leak about Patrice's whereabouts, to Silva's capture on the island, was all part of Silva's plan. Whether Patrice succeeded in his assassination attempt or not, he was bait for Bond to follow.

And it didn't matter if Sévérine knew before hand about the assassination attempt. The painting she was showing was Modigliani's Woman with a Fan, a real painting stolen in 2010 and never recovered. I'm sure that the last thing on her mind was to draw attention to the sale of stolen art.

So, to answer your question, while I think it was for murder, the murder was not the ultimate goal. Leaving a "crumb trail" for Bond was.

  • So you are saying the kill was probably just a random act to direct Bond's attention to Patrice's location. Interesting.
    – magnattic
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 15:19
  • Funny that Bond almost screwed up following Silva's trail by killing Patrice before he could interrogate him. Almost failing to find a man who wanted to be found, he sure did not show his best performance in Skyfall.
    – magnattic
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 15:20
  • I don't think Silva intended to be captured. He didn't gain anything by it. The "trojan horse" on the hard drive broke him out, but other than that it didn't seem to do anything else.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 19:03
  • 1
    @atticae: Although Bond killed Patrice even before interrogating him, he did not lose the breadcrumb trail. Remember Sévérine facing up towards Bond, as if almost to give him one good long look so that he can remember her. I think all this was a brilliant master-plan on Silva's part that incidentally had a lot of contingency plans(keeping in mind Bond's volatile nature).
    – Sayan
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 5:21
  • I felt that this was a set up so that Bond would get the credit chip from the case and end up at the casino, thus setting in motion the rest of Silva's plan.
    – Nobby
    Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 13:28

I think it was murder. However, it had to be done in way that those involved could not be blamed

Sévérine could simply cry to the police whilst providing no useful information and the physical evidence clearly showing she was not the killer, if she had just shot the victim in the back of the head herself from a metre away she would most likely be caught.

If someone else had shot him from 1 metre away in the room then the police would ask how he got in, his description, the victim might react and cause a problem etc.

I assumed that she had no idea when or how the assassination would be carried out merely that it would be done by an expert. There is a chance things can go wrong but this guy is a multi million pound professional, he knows what he is doing. Even if something had gone wrong and Patrice got caught by the police or something then it would not matter, they would just send other assassins until the job was done.


It seemed to me that it was for murder. I think the reason they went through so much effort is so they could dispose of the body and hide any evidence of wrong doings.

It would be much easier for them the get the target if they are compliant so a set up of some sort of art deal was manifested in order to relax the target into a chair to ensure there would be no struggle or noise from them which could result in them getting caught.

  • But then i think of the noise and mess created by the breaking glass from the shot and realistically speaking I don't think they would have been able to clean this up so I'm not too sure now lol
    – jampez77
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 12:07
  • How would shooting him out of another building help in disposing the body? The only reason I can imagine to do this is that they wanted to look like they had nothing to do with it. But then there surely Patrice could've shot him anywhere else, for example outside of the building.
    – magnattic
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 13:25
  • ok good point lol, the more I think about this the less it seems to make sense.
    – jampez77
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 13:51

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