The film then jumps ahead ten years to reveal Willie hiding in Spain where he gets caught up by some local thugs and is brought to the English hit men of Braddock and his young accomplice Myron (Tim Roth) who will take him the rest of the way. Once Willie sees the men, and figures where he's going he takes somewhat curious yet rather brilliant approach. In that he again makes Willie rather easygoing given his rather difficult situation. Stamp portrays this all the way in these scenes as his very physical manner is as though he is on a casual vacation, and speaks as though he's talking to some acquaintances. The trick is, though not specifically stated, is within Stamp's performance in that while rather aloof he's not entirely detached. Stamp instead suggests that Willie is playing a game, and is trying to work the men though without them noticing. Stamp's great as he actually gives a rather comedic performance at times by portraying Willie as trolling the two men in an attempt to mess up their plan. When early on Willie introduces himself to a stranger, Stamp's delivery is oh so pleasant yet there seems to be a distinct pleasure in the act that makes things a bit more complicated for Braddock and Myron.
Well that brings us to old Braddock played by the one and only John Hurt. Hurt's performance plays so perfectly against Stamp because he shows quite bluntly that Braddock is not playing a game, he's doing a job. Hurt's whole presence exudes this world weariness fitting to a man whose job is to kill people, and to a man who has doing it for quite some time. Hurt portrays no joy or eagerness when they initially catch Willie, he just gives him a straight stare as though he's confirming a work order. Hurt does not use this to suggest that Braddock is any way fed up with his job, but rather that he's so accustom to it that it has become rather routine. The two are a great balance, and only amplified more so by the overeager Myron. Braddock is the man of the least words leaving most of the speaking to Myron, except for the words that actually need to be said. Hurt's performance is almost the opposite of his turn in the Elephant, where his face was almost entirely covered, as so much of this turn relies on his facial reactions. Hurt, like Stamp, is often rather funny though with Hurt it is through exasperated reactions towards the stupidity of Myron or his attempt to figure out what exactly Willie is up to.
That is not to say Braddock is some hapless sap, in fact far from it. It is fascinating to see Hurt take on the role given that he is not the most physically imposing figure yet that does not matter. Hurt in a strange way makes use of his wiry frame to add to the personal style of Braddock which is this minimalist and specific action. Hurt is actually quite chilling in the role by so effectively realizing this method of Braddock, as he says so much even as he speaks so little. The menace that Hurt exudes is quite remarkable by how effortless he makes it. On one end this is in portraying the exactness of the man's action, as Hurt is excellent in his slight reaction conveying the way Braddock dissects then acts. For example there is a moment where Willie suggests that a third party probably will talk, and Hurt is rather chilling by managing to convey in his expression Braddock determining that the man must die. In the scenes where Braddock goes about killing someone Hurt is so quietly terrifying, as he does not show quite a true sadism as Braddock but does show just how simple the act has become for him.
I rather love how Hurt approaches this because it manages to do two things. On one hand he is the heavy he needs to be by making an act so vicious by being so unassuming while doing it, as he will just casually hold a gun or reveal it since he's done it for so many years. Hurt technically has the traits of the usual "cool" hit man, with his sunglasses, his way of smoking, his casual demeanor, but he uses for a more disturbing end. Hurt's work goes further than that as it also suggests the weight of the years of this life. Hurt though doesn't use this to garner Braddock a true sympathy but rather a troubling understanding. He can be so blase because he's killed so many people in his life, and there is something quite unnerving about such a situation. When Braddock gives sort of a stay of execution at times for Willie, as well as their unfortunate fourth passenger, Maggie who they take along as hostage, Hurt makes it less of the man feeling any sorrow for them rather just sort of saying "Hmm not quite the right time yet". In this way Hurt technically is on a similair wavelength to Stamp in that he's also playing a trick on his companions and the audience, the difference is it isn't quite as purposeful. You may think that Braddock might have a bit of mercy in him somewhere, but in reality we just don't know him well enough yet.
Now I seem to be wrongly ignoring Stamp who stays rather consistent through much of the film, which is not problem given what he shows his character's up to, and also the fact that he is also consistently entertaining in the role as Willie so jovially plants the seeds of doubt in his captors' minds. Stamp though does portray this gradual transition of sorts as though Willie is kind of slowly getting more and more into this character he's developed for himself to trick the men with. The character being a man who is frankly above it all, to the point that he even claims to be above dying. When he describes that death is but a natural process, Stamp grants it the sincerity of a true philosopher who maybe believes exactly what he says. Fittingly as always Hurt's equally good in the scene in portraying Braddock genuinely taken aback by someone who has come to terms with death, something he himself hasn't. The problem is all the tricks come to a head though and all is revealed. On one hand Stamp shows that this really is an act that old Willie has crafted, and over the day has almost begun believe his own acting. Stamp earns a change in this as when he is initially captured, as well as initially threatened by his old colleagues, he shows a man fearful of his life. This is revealed to be the real man when Braddock reveals he's decided to kill them all early. Stamp's actually rather heartbreaking as his act breaks with such a genuine moment of realization of the fear of death as Braddock tells him his time is up. Hurt on the other hand again was showing no trick, but rather a misinterpretation of his actions. Braddock reprieves were not out of any sympathy but just a man knowing he could finish the job later. As we are reminded of Braddock's violent moments which are all standout moments due to Hurt. There's a moment where Maggie attempts to get help, and Hurt's reaction is sheer perfection as it is less "oh no" and more "what you really think I haven't handled something like this before?". This everyday approach to the hit man is downright amazing especially in those small moments that seem so fitting to a man just going through the motions that make the character particularly menacing. Now Stamp gives a fantastic performance, but I absolutely loved Hurt's approach to his role. Although we never leave the confines of the job Hurt through these scenes gives such a vivid portrait of this hit man that in no way makes him any less intimidating.