Ben Robins with eight of the best movie shootouts ever…
With Ben Wheatley’s Boston-set shootout comedy Free Fire finally hitting UK screens this week, it seems only appropriate to remind ourselves of all the best and bloodiest gunfights to date, which there’ve been many of. In fact, narrowing it down to just the eight listed here was an almighty task in itself. You could very happily write an entire book just on movie shootouts alone.
*Spoilers may follow*
The Matrix (1998) – The Lobby Shootout
Quite easily one of the most influential action scenes of the last twenty years, the Wachowskis very much set the pace for almost every shootout since with this ridiculously explosive second act monster. From the opening kung-fu to the now iconic industrial score, it’s a beautifully barmy bit of Hollywood filmmaking, full of crazy backflips, running up walls and needlessly spraying huge amounts of bullets. It’s the epitome of indulgent action, whilst still pulling on the film’s core ideas and its lead’s overall hero arc terrifically. Many have tried since, but few have come even close to making a shootout as thrilling or, frankly, as cool as this.
The Way of the Gun (2000) – Parker and Longbaugh’s Last Stand
One that’s often sadly forgotten, Christopher McQuarrie’s grisly directorial debut is filled to the brim with incredible shootouts, but its finale is on another level entirely. The two leads, Benicio Del Toro and a young Ryan Phillippe, both find themselves charging headfirst into a heavily-armed ambush in the grounds surrounding a Mexican brothel, facing off with James Caan and a private-army of sharpshooting criminals. Barely a second goes by without a bullet being fired (and for a hefty eight minutes too), as Del Toro and Phillippe make a seriously bloody last stand. It might be a lot more desperate and less energetic than the above, but it’s certainly no less effective.
The International (2009) – The Guggenheim Firefight
The perfect example of a standout scene in an otherwise fairly forgettable thriller, Tom Tykwer’s Guggenheim-set shootout is one of the most exquisitely arranged gunfights ever. Playing as much on tension as it does the thrill of chasing bullets, it’s about as drawn-out as they come, using the architecture of the museum to pit an out-of-his-depth Clive Owen against a never-ending team of uzi-toting henchmen. Even just from a technical standpoint this one’s impressive, with Tykwer and his team building a scale model of the world famous Guggenheim in a gigantic warehouse in Germany, just so they could tear it all apart with bullet-holes. And this attention to detail really shows.
The Wild Bunch (1969) – The Battle of Bloody Porch
It’s frankly impossible to even mention the word ‘shootout’ without paying some sort of tribute to Sam Peckinpah’s legendary western stand-off. Famously one of the most violent movies ever released at the time, the film’s climactic ‘The Battle of Bloody Porch’ remains ridiculously intense, explosive and just downright insane even now, nearly 50 years later. The body-count alone is enough to make your head spin, let alone Peckinpah’s quick-fire editing.
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