Shootouts and gunfights have a long history in movies. The climactic action beats of classic Westerns, crime films, and war films have long been based on brutal gun fights. And the classic plot included fight between their characters and the forces that oppose them. In the decades since, they’ve only increased in popularity.
The Long Riders
The Long Riders tells the story of the Younger-James gang of outlaw brothers. It comes to the point where the dead-or-alive bounties were too lucrative for them to continue riding together. Hill cast several real-life brothers in the parts, which lends the film a natural sense of familiarity with brotherhood.
The big bank robbery shootout is very close to the first shootout in The Wild Bunch, except Hill can use more blood in slow motion than Sam Peckinpah ever thought.
Shoot ’em up
It’s not often that a typical action film opens with a bang-bang shoot-em-up sequence, but for a film named Shoot ‘Em Up, it’s almost a requirement.
Granted, the guy was a violent sort about to cut a baby from the womb of a frightened mother, so you knew he’d die, but this is still one of the greatest uses of vegetables as a tool ever.
Not content with that, the aforementioned shootout ensues, highlighting Smith’s uncanny marksmanship and ability to exploit his surroundings to his advantage. It’s just a taste of the mayhem that’s to come, but it’s a great start.
So maybe MacGruber’s shootout sequence isn’t the most stylish or even impressive on this list, but boy is it funny. The film defies expectations by portraying a hero who prefers to tear people’s throats out rather than use weapons, but when Will Forte’s MacGruber is given a semi-automatic, all hell breaks loose.
The Way of the Gun
You’d be forgiven for forgetting or, more possibly, never having seen The Way of the Gun, a strange early-aughts action film starring Benicio Del Toro and Ryan Phillippe as two ruthless criminals who get themselves into trouble when they abduct the wrong woman.
The Way of the Gun contains a plethora of spectacular action set-pieces, but the climactic final shootout is an unforgettable, impossibly tense sequence that holds you so glued to your seat that you feel like you have spikes in your back.
Captain America : The Winter Soldier
Captain America’s military legacy lays the foundations for The Winter Soldier’s tactical fight on a busy city highway. Superheroes and shootouts don’t seem like they can go together; it’s almost too pedestrian.
Even in the moments of heroic imagination, the series maintains a grounded sense of realism by combining hand-to-hand fighting and superhuman feats.