There’s really no better way to settle any dispute than a gunfight. Sure, here in the ‘real world’ we rely on things like the UN to stop them happening, and when they do happen unpleasant things tend to follow – but that’s not to say they’ve not been the lifeblood of more than a century of cinema. Join us, then, as we run down the greatest shootouts in movie history.
Everybody talks about Pacino and De Niro’s historic cup of coffee, but we all know the highpoint of Michael Mann’s crime classic: their respective gangs shooting seven bells out of one another, and destroying half of LA in the process. Fun fact: SAS veteran Andy McNab trained the stars: check out his thoughts below.
The Wild Bunch
‘Bloody’ Sam Peckinpah earned his nickname here – William Holden’s gang of aging outlaws take on half the Mexican army, and give them a damn good run for their money. Famously, more ammunition was spent shooting this scene than in the entire Mexican revolution.
Yes, when Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss comprehensively trash a government building’s lobby to save their chum Morpheus, it’s extraordinarily cool. It has to be said, though, there is something queasy about people who don’t even know they’re in the Matrix being casually blown away, but no matter – this is a classic shootout regardless. YouTube is oddly stingy when it comes to The Matrix, so here’s a Bollywood rip-off instead:
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
This one’s all about the buildup, and of course Ennio Morricone’s music. No more than two shots are fired, but this is definitely our coolest entry – watch the whole thing, and rejoice.
Hong Kong’s master of mayhem John Woo set himself an unreachably high benchmark with this, his finest work. When a director is shooting five-minute takes of unbelievably complex action, you know he’s reached his peak, and is doing it just to test himself – a test Woo passes with flying colours.
Don’t laugh – the guns may fire gunge, and the actors may be kids, but this cult classic is the equal of Peckinpah at the top of his game. OK, do laugh. It’s funny. But awesome.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The prototypical buddy movie ends with quite a punch – Robert Redford and Paul Newman’s luck finally running out as they clash with a crack division of Bolivian cavalry. Probably the only shootout on this list which can make you cry.
Underrated modern movie alert! Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner star in this little-seen gem as two cattle hands who come up against ruthless land baron Michael Gambon. The closing shootout, as those in favour of free access to the land square up to those who want to enclose the land for themselves, is quite something.
Grosse Pointe Blank
Another one we can file under ‘comedy-’ a super-cool John Cusack taking on a rival assassin in the naffest mini-market cinema has yet seen. Nineties-nostalgics will be chuffed to see the oblivious clerk playing Doom, too.
Pictures: Rex Features