10 Most Intense Shootouts In Movie History –



Movies have long been packed with action and violence, but filming an intense shootout scene is no easy task for filmmakers. Not only do they have to direct actors to do exactly what is needed at the right time, they also require pyrotechnics, the right kind of firepower, and a crew of safety experts on hand.

It may be difficult and costly, but when it’s done well, a movie shootout can make or break a film. These scenes don’t necessarily need to involve hundreds of people either; often, a movie shootout between one or two people can be the best in the genre, but there are certainly some that are better than others.

Movie shootouts that are intense enough to make it onto a list like this need to feature a ramping up of action to an inevitable conclusion. It needs to be memorable and, above all else, it has to be necessary to the plot.

Kill counts are a big part of what makes a shootout good, but that isn’t everything. The characters need to be interesting and the audience needs to care about what happens to them. Only then can a movie shootout be both intense and memorable enough to become noteworthy.

10. The Terminator – Police Station Shootout

Orion Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of those actors who has been in a lot of shootouts. The final battle at the end of Commando comes to mind as a particularly brutal one, but no shootout was as intense and memorable as the one in The Terminator when he storms the police station to find Sarah Connor.

Not only does he drive into the police station after uttering the line that would become his signature catchphrase, “I’ll be back,” he takes on an entire police department without batting an eye.

Granted, the guy was playing a lethal cyborg sent from the future to literally terminate people, but that doesn’t make the fight any less harrowing.

As he storms through the police station looking for Sarah, he wastes 17 cops with a submachine gun and shotgun. This was one of those gunfights that used so many rounds of ammunition, the room filled with smoke, which only helped to add drama to the scene.

The massacre was later referenced in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which confirmed the number of cops who were killed.

9. RoboCop – Shootout At The Cocaine Factory

Orion Pictures

Robocop is one of those movies that has a ton of shootouts in it. There’s hardly a moment in the film where a gun isn’t being fired either at a cop or by one, which makes it somewhat difficult to pin down the best gun battle of them all.

When it comes down to the most intense fight in the movie, you don’t need to look any further than the scene where the titular hero stormed the cocaine factory to arrest Clarence Boddicker.

This is one of those ’80s shootouts that really used the scenery to make things happen. Bad guys are lurking atop catwalks carrying automatic machine guns, but that hardly mattered when Robocop burst through the door. He took on a hail of gunfire, but that didn’t slow him down in the slightest as he made his way through every goon in the place.

Cocaine dust spread through the air as Robocop gunned down a total of 17 bad guys. One injured thug accidentally wasted another fellow as he spasmed in death, but Robocop didn’t kill Boddicker in the scene. His programming wouldn’t allow it, which led to the arrest of the very man who killed him.

8. Desperado – What’s In The Guitar Case?

Columbia Pictures

Desperado is one of those movies that features a lot of gunfights, but none so well orchestrated as the ones that happened in bars. The film opens to a rather storied telling of a fight that leaves 12 dead in one bar, but the truly intense battle doesn’t come until a little later in the movie.

When the Mariachi makes his way to the Tarasco bar, he had his guitar case with him, which is exactly what the bad guys were looking for. A momentary subterfuge left them believing the case held a guitar until the disguise was lifted to reveal more guns in the case than could possibly fit.

What follows is an over-the-top gunfight choreographed in such a way as to honor every gun battle that came before it. Throughout the course of the fight, 22 bad guysget taken out, but not all of them by Mariachi.

One bad guy is killed by his pals when he is used as a human shield, the Pick-Up Guy, played by Quentin Tarantino gets his brains painted all over the wall, and the bartender gets popped by an arms dealer.

7. John Wick – Red Circle Shootout

Summit Entertainment

John Wick is a walking, talking gunfight all to himself (as is Keanu Reeves, but that’s a story for another list). He storms through each and every scene without hesitation and often takes the time to double-tap each and every target he takes out. He is a professional, after all, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn he killed 80 people in this one movie.

When it comes to the most intense shootout in the film, you can’t get much deadlier and impressive than the gunfight at the Red Circle Club. Wick entered the place, killed one guy, interrogated another, and headed to his target.

Like any good movie about revenge, Wick has to go through several bad guys to get to the one he wants, and there are plenty to choose from in the club. As he made his way through, he took out a total of 28 guys.

Granted, some people killed by his hand were taken out via knives or whatever happened to be lying around, but the shootout between Wick and Iosef Tarasov’s goons quickly became a legendary example of how to film a shootout in a modern action film.

6. Heat – Shootout Between The Cops And Robbers

Warner Bros.

When a movie shoots a bank robbery, it rarely involves handing a note to a teller resulting in a small bag of cash leaving the scene with a single guy. Bank robberies in movies almost always lead to intense gunfights between the cops & robbers and Heat is no exception with a total of nine killed in this one scene.

By the time De Niro and his crew take on the bank, the characters have been fully developed as have Pacino and his cops. This leads to a greater appreciation of each and every person involved in the heist on both sides.

Every bullet fired has meaning when it is being fired between two groups of characters who have developed throughout the film and the audience was left with one of the most memorable gun battles in modern cinema.

The gunfight doesn’t pick up until the robbers make their way to the street, but it quickly builds in intensity as the bodies begin to pile up. What follows is a chase scene wrought with gunfire between two groups of people who are heavily armed. Michael Mann’s unique filming style is on display as the pressure ramps up to its inevitable conclusion making Heat’s firefight one of the most harrowing ever recorded.

5. The Matrix – Lobby Shootout

Warner Bros.

The first Matrix movie showcased some impressive gunplay, even going so far as to invent a new filming style called “bullet time.” While those scenes showing a slowed-down fight between Neo and the Agents are amazing, you can’t talk about a gunfight in The Matrix without giving credit where it’s due: the lobby scene.

After Morpheus is captured and interrogated, Neo and Trinity grab a battalion’s worth of guns and head into the building. After getting through the metal detector, the fight breaks out between the two against dozens of equally-armed bad guys.

When this movie was filmed in the ’90s, the Wachowskis could have structured the set to allow for CGI enhanced filming, but they chose not to. When the bullets tear apart the columns, they really blew those things apart. This was a one-and-done scene and it worked amazingly well.

As Neo and Trinity jump and rebound across the lobby, they take out a total of 15 people without taking as much as a scratch themselves. This scene was so perfectly shot, it stands as one of the best-filmed action scenes of all time. All gunfights shot since this movie debuted in 1999 either emulated this fight or used it as inspiration.

4. Django Unchained – Candyland

Sony Pictures

The bodies had already started to pile up in Django Unchained by the time Schultz couldn’t resist and shot Calvin in the heart. Up to that point, the kills were mostly assassinations and not true depictions of a gunfight. After Calvin’s death, Django gets to fighting in a most impressive way.

As he makes his way through Candyland, he took on every bad guy in the place with little more than a six-shooter. Multiple kills rack up as he made his way towards the entrance, which opened to reveal half-a-dozen bad guys who almost immediately succumb to Django’s bullets.

More bad guys show up to find themselves introduced to Django’s gunfire as more blood flies from bodies than you might see in any non-horror/slasher film. Eventually, Django is captured, but he finds his way back to Candyland a little later.

The second gunfight in Candyland is more of a direct massacre than anything else. In the first fight, 19 people are killed while only 5 die in the second. Overall, the fights at Candyland were bloody and brutal in a way Hollywood hadn’t attempted in decades.

3. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid’s Blaze Of Glory

20th Century Fox

By the time Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid comes close to its conclusion, the titular characters are in a bit of a pickle. As they are slowly surrounded and being fired upon from multiple locations, they find themselves in a no-win situation.

Despite this, they make their way through the fight, scrounging bullets and returning fire so they can kill 19 of the men trying to take them out. They don’t get by unscathed though… there are just too many bullets flying through the air at this point.

As they take round after round, they find themselves huddled inside a small building where it becomes clear they aren’t getting out of this one. Not this time.

Just when it looks like the audience is going to have to watch these two gunned down and killed on screen, director George Roy Hill stops the film on a still image of the two as they storm out of the building to face their certain deaths. That image became an iconic representation of the characters who went out in a blaze of glory.

2. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly – Mexican Standoff

United Artists

Sometimes, a gunfight doesn’t involve dozens of bad guys and a lone warrior, some of the best scenes throughout all of cinema have involved two or three people facing off against one another.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly had no fear of killing off characters. 220 bodiesstacked up throughout the movie, but none were as important as the final shootout between the titular characters in what has become the best example of a “Mexican Standoff” in all of cinema.

The standoff is incredibly intense as all three characters stand in opposition of one another. Each man is in a position where he can kill the other, but that means no man can survive the fight. This was the no-win situation that couldn’t end without each man getting killed… but that’s not how it played out.

When they finally face off with one another, more than five minutes pass. That’s a long time to build up to a single event. The focus on each character’s eyes only ramps up the tension until Clint Eastwood’s Blondie shoots Angel Eyes. Not only does he take out the bad guy, the body falls into a grave.

1. Scarface – “Say Hello To My Little Friend!!!”

Universal Pictures

Scarface is one of the most violent movies ever made. The “chainsaw” scene comes to mind, but that was hardly the only time someone was killed on screen. Throughout the course of the movie, people succumb to Tony Montana’s rise to power in brutal and horrific ways.

Ultimately, things come crashing down on him and his drug empire as the film culminates into one of the most memorable movie shootouts in all of cinema. As he watches his would-be assailants storm his office on the CCTV, he loads an M-203 and utters the classic line, “Say hello to my little friend!”

He then storms the men with a fully-automatic assault rifle and easily wastes his assailants one after another. Granted, he takes a bullet or two in the exchange, but that only slows him down a little.

Automatic gunfire, grenades, and all manner of death and destruction are fired between Tony and the (other) bad guys until a total of 29 people are killed. Tony even takes about as many bullets as he gives until The Skull shoots him in the back with a double-barrel shotgun.


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