The 10 greatest movie shootouts


Michael Mann's cops-and-robbers masterpiece's chaotic centrepiece is a triumph of planning, down to the deafening sound of heavy-caliber gunfire echoing through downtown L.A. Mann didn't like the post-production noise sweetening. He wanted the shootout's sound recorded on location. This is the golden ingredient. Design creates luck.

""The Wild Bunch""

"Fight, Pike!" William Holden's Browning M1917 gives the title bandits a glimmer of hope against Mapache's men. It's the last stand of a certain type of western outlaw, and they won't go quietly. Sam Peckinpah and editor Louis Lombardo staged and cut this scene to perfection, interspersing shots of innocent villagers caught in the crossfire of a meaningless battle.

Rio Bravo

Three outlaws beat Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne). He's dropped his six-shooter and can't reach his rifle without getting shot. Colorado (Ricky Nelson) and Feathers (Angie Dickinson) distract the gunmen long enough for Colorado to toss the rifle to the Duke. It's been imitated and praised for 61 years.

"The Professionals"

"10!" Richard Brooks made serious movies like "Blackboard Jungle," "The Brothers Karamazov," and "In Cold Blood," but "The Professionals" showed he could make a satisfying, conventional western. The hired gunmen set up a killing box in a ravine to kill a bandit party. The action (which seems undercranked) is snappy and over quickly. It's spectacular.

"Hard Boiled"

"Heat" is a rough approximation of a real-life shootout. John Woo's "Hard Boiled" has hyper-stylized gunplay. Woo's Peckinpah-by-way-of-Minnelli aesthetic turns a hospital into a bloody shootout. Why wouldn't you want bullets flying around a hospital? Woo's idea. When Chow Yun-fat cradles an infant while firing, the film becomes a ballet of meaningless violence. You know Woo is too humanist to kill a baby, so you go along with it.

"The Killer"

This list could include John Woo's "Bullet in the Head," "A Better Tomorrow II," and "Face/Off," but we'll leave room for other entries and close with the climactic church shootout from the film that brought him to Hollywood's attention. Some critics prefer this gun battle over the hospital scene in "Hard Boiled" because it fits the director's operatic style. "The Killer" is a grand tragedy that we rewatch hoping Ah Johng (Chow Yun-fat) will survive this time.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

"No LeFors? “LeFors? No.” "Yes. I thought we were in trouble." William Goldman was a great screenwriter because... Just watch "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" He turns a downer ending into a smile by prefacing it with a laugh line.

"Hold the Dark"

Keelut, Alaska, is tense. Yupik tribesman Cheeon (Julian Black Antelope) has barricaded himself in his home. Donald Marium (James Badge Dale) doesn't want to kill him, but Cheeon confirms violence. We see an attic door open as Marium gives orders to his deputies. Cheeon's machine gun decimates the police force. Jeremy Saulnier is paying homage to Pike's final volley in "The Wild Bunch," but Cheeon could be the last man standing given his improved effectiveness.


smashed Tony Montana (Al Pacino) uses a Colt M161 machine gun modified with an M203 grenade launcher in Brian De Palma's operatic update of Howard Hawks' "Scarface." Bloody outburst from an impotent monster; no one of value is hurt. De Palma lost Pacino for a few days when the actor accidentally touched a hot gun barrel, allowing him and Spielberg to cover the shootout in inventive ways.

"The Untouchables"

The Odessa Steps shootout in Chicago's Union Station is famous, but what about Capone's men on the Canadian border? De Palma doesn't romanticise westerns, which makes this sequence so fun. Ambush gone wrong forces Chicago cops to save the day. With Ennio Morricone's triumphant theme, it's movie heaven. You must die of something


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