Shootouts and gunfights have become a tradition in action movies, whether it’s in a Western, a gangster or crime film. Often required to be a climactic scene, movie shootouts continue to be a popular part. Over the years, they have gotten bigger and better, due to the film technology, and also a lot more fun to watch. We have also seen people replicate them – sort of – with air pistols in their backyards, but definitely without the staging and expert choreography behind the action movie scenes. With so many fantastic scenes to choose from, we have narrowed it down to just seven wonderful, gun blasting scenes.
Lets Take a look at 7 of the Best Movie Shootouts
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Though the final shootout of the epic Western can appear tame to cinema audiences today, when it was first released in 1969, the bloodbath of a scene caused issues about the levels of violence seen on the big screen. Directed by Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch is also a mastery of filmmaking, utilising slow-motion, quick cuts and multi-camera setups and viewpoints. The final shootout between Pike (William Holden), his gang against members of the Mexican Federal Army is chaos, and it is not necessarily meant to entertain. The scene throws the audience about, as the camera goes from body to body, and challenges views of the Western genre.
The Untouchables (1987)
Brian de Palma has created a few scenes of on-screen carnage, most notably Scarface (1983), but perhaps The Untouchables shootout in the train station is the more beautiful, due to the choreography, tension and emotional side of it all. As Kevin Costner’s Elliot Ness waits to make a move against the gangsters, a woman enters with a baby in a pram. Ness tries to clear the scene, helping the woman take the pram up the stairs, but the first gun is drawn, and the pram falls down the steps, an ode the Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin, right in the middle of a mob shootout. Heart in your throat, the whole scene unfolds slowly; the music, the slow-motion shooting building up the tension.
Michael Mann’s Heat uses impressive filmmaking for this bank-robbery shootout, using character as much as the action itself. With the bank-robbing crew, led by Robert de Niro, you want them to get out ok, and for Al Pacino and the police, you also want them to be the good guys. The film has been leading to this pivotal scene, and not only is impressive to watch, with all the bullet-ridden cars, it was also filmed in the middle of downtown L.A. Just watching it, you can see how this scene has influenced many shootouts in the films that have come after it.
The Matrix changed action cinema when it came into our lives. It drew heavily from anime and martial arts films, with Lana and Lily Wachowski using wire work and bullet time that became the trademark of the franchise. There are many memorable scenes in The Matrix, such as the Neo (Keanu Reeves)’s bullet time moves. But the best has to be in the lobby when Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) save their mentor Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). Its acrobatic approach to the gun fighting is breath-taking, and what’s more, it stands up against the test of time as a revolutionary action scene.
Rather than a comedy film with action or vice versa, Hot Fuzz is a perfect hybrid of the two. Edgar Wright brings together the action and comedy seamlessly, and this is best displayed in the big shootout at the end of the scene. Top police officer Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) joins forces with Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) to take down the twisted members of the village council once and for all, including a horse and model village. Brilliant comic timing, well-executed action shots and fast-paced editing that only Edgar Wright can do, Hot Fuzz is a top British film, but also, a top action film.
Quentin Tarantino has given us many fantastic shootouts, from Reservoir Dogs to The Hateful Eight. But it is Django Unchained that has to be named on this list as having the best shootout scenes. Tarantino went all in for the shoot-out in Django, even blowing house up. It’s bloody, rather gory and also just has some incredible staging along with some classic quotable lines. It all comes after seeing Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) be one of the best worst villains and Django (Jamie Foxx) taking his revenge. More than anything, it is satisfying to watch not just for the story but the stunning cinematography
John Wick and its sequel, John Wick Chapter 2, have some brilliant shootouts. Keanu Reeves as John Wick makes for a brilliant action star, as he can actually do the action scenes and make them look good. The club scene of the first film is a set piece that turned the hit film into a classic. Wick is the person sent to kill the bogeyman, and you can see why. He methodically makes his way through the club, looking for his target, the belligerent Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), taking out opponents one by one, and hitting the mark every time. Directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski have a background in stunt work, so they know when to make the cuts, keep the camera steady and so have created a phenomenal action sequence for the ages.
Does John Wick 2 have as much beasty brutality? Click HERE to find out in our John Wick 2 review.