A one-on-one fist-fight can be fun, but a multi-person shootout often becomes the signature scene in a feature. Seemingly started by the Western genre, the shootout scene has developed from humble beginnings to modern bullet-baths, visiting every form of warfare in between. From the strangely real to the really strange, we look at six awesome movie shootouts that refuse to leave your mind after the film has finished.
The Way of the Gun (2000) – Final Shootout
The final shootout from Christopher McQuarrie‘s suspense-thriller has an eerie sense of realism, no doubt enhanced by the lack of soundtrack. The markedly Western-Style scene sees Ryan Phillipe and Benicio Del Toro try to fight their way out of an ambush. It doesn’t go smoothly, with Phillipe’s character landing in a pit full of broken glass and both protagonists wounded by James Cann as Joe Sarno. The verisimilitude of the scene is undeniable and stands as cinematic proof that campers always win.
Heat (1995) – Street Shootout
Michael Mann’s 1995 film creates a shootout that is often praised for its sense of realism because, amongst the chaos, Heat demonstrates a striking awareness of reality. The notably ‘open-space’ shootout sees plenty of collateral damage, pesky civilians who have no idea how to run and relatively frequent reloads. Oh and Val Kilmer proves you can rep a ponytail to a street shootout and still look like a total badass.
The Matrix (1999) – Lobby scene
From the realistic to the slick and superficial, The Matrix lobby shootout nevertheless sticks in the mind of viewers for its extended slow-mo sequences and gravity-defying acrobatics. The embodiment of the ‘bad guys always miss’ trope, Neo and Trinity interchange standing behind the world’s most crumbly pillars and performing cartwheels like it’s your average Sunday. Ridiculous? Yes. Awesome? Most certainly.
The Wild Bunch (1969) – Final Shootout
Back to 1969 and a scene which was so much more than your average Western shootout. The group of outlaws take a long, infamous walk to their deaths and embrace their fate with open arms. Also known as ‘The Battle of Bloody Porch’, this scene harks from a time where production relied on paint, tape and a lot of time and effort. Purportedly stretching the 350 Mexican Uniforms with frequent repairs, blowing up over 6000 of them over a 12-day period, you can see how this scene received its nickname. All the effort was worth it though, to create this iconic shootout scene.
Open Range (2003) – Final Shootout
Kevin Costner’s 2003 film is highlighted by this slow-paced but tense shootout in what has to be the most-flammable village ever built. Expertly avoiding killing the horses, this shootout is marked by its controlled approach and extended moments of tension. Meanwhile, Michael Gambon takes a break from Dumbledore-ing to limp around being an asshole. With frequent pauses for intense conversations and quiet tension-builders, this is certainly an emotionally charged shootout. And the splinters must have been excruciating.
Desperado (1995) – Bar Shootout
This sequence is full of surprises: gun filled guitar case? Check. Rotating body shield? Check. Antonio Banderas not playing Antonio Banderas? Maybe not… But this scene from Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 feature brings a relatively fresh approach to the tradition. With Rodriguez’s signature comic tones, this bar shootout is as over the top as they come. Despite looking like a choreographed video to a violent, Mexican YMCA, it is thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Plus, this is another example that a solid head-of-hair equates to excellent gun skills.