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5 of the Best Movie Shootout Scenes

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High octane, adrenaline-fuelled shootouts are the staple of many action films in Hollywood. From the epic firefights from directors such as Michael Mann to the subtle art of John Woo’s “gun-fu”, characters with seemingly endless supplies of ammunition battle it out until only one remains standing.

While everyone loves an epic shootout, Hollywood has also produced some scenes where there is no need for endless amounts of explosions and carnage to create something special. The building of tension and the accuracy of the firearms goes a long way to contribute to this.

Many filmmakers will stay loyal with magazine clip capacities, while placing accurate replicas, such as decommissioned weapons or airsoft guns in the hands of their actors, to really add to the authenticity.

We have looked at a mixture of both epic shootouts and nail-biting tension builders in our list of five of the best film shootout scenes (obviously there are many more), but which is your favourite?

The Matrix (1999) – Lobby Shootout

What do you do when you start questioning if the world around you is truly real? Take a pill from a stranger and see what happens of course…!

The Matrix focuses on a computer programmer called Neo (Keanu Reeves) who discovers that the world around him is just a simulation called “the Matrix” which has been created by machines to subdue the human population while harvesting the bodies’ heat and electrical activity to use as an energy source; heavy stuff!

When the leader of the rebellion Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) is taken captive by the sentient computer programs known as Agents, who are responsible for terminating anyone who opposes the Matrix, it is up to Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) to rescue their leader from the grips of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). This leads to a rather epic shootout which has become famous over the years, thanks to its popularising of a visual effect known as “bullet time”.

Watch the carnage unfold below and see for yourself why this scene made the list:

No Country for Old Men (2007) – Street Shootout

Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, No Country for Old Men is a cat-and-mouse story from start to finish directed by the Coen Brothers and is often noted as being their masterpiece.

The story follows Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a welder and Vietnam veteran who stumbles across a drug deal gone bad and a suitcase containing two million dollars. Moss takes the money but is pursued by unhinged hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is hired to recover the money at any cost.

One particular scene, a shootout between the two in a dark, wet street, is cold, brutal and demonstrates that you don’t need a bucketful of pyrotechnics to create an unforgettable scene (we’re looking at you Michael Bay!). Watch the drama unfold below:

Hard Boiled (1992) – Hospital Shootout

John Woo’s epic film was his last Hong Kong film before he made the transition to Hollywood, and what a way to sign off! Hard Boiled follows Inspector “Tequila” Yuen (Chow Yun-fat) who teams up with an undercover cop in the mob, Alan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), in order to take down the crime syndicate once and for all.

The film leads up to a climax in a hospital, where the pair must rescue innocent civilians and new-born babies from the maternity ward while fighting off the hordes of mob hitmen who stand in their way.

The hospital shootout scene is often regarded as one of the finest in cinematic history, due to it containing an uncut shot of over two and half minutes which follows the two men in their pursuit of justice. It is also worth noting that the slowing down that is seen throughout this scene is done while shooting and not with the use of post-filming editing.

Watch the scene for yourself and see why Hollywood came calling for Woo:

Lone Survivor (2013) – Forest Shootout

The true story of a four-man SEAL team was a book first written by Marcus Luttrell and later turned into a film starring Mark Wahlberg. The film tells the story of Operation Red Wings, during which a four-man SEAL recon and surveillance team was tasked with tracking down and killing Taliban leader Ahmad Shah.

Unlike the other films on the list, this one is a work of non-fiction which makes the events all the more incredible. Prior to the shooting of the film, the four main actors who portrayed the SEALs had an intensive training boot camp, where they trained alongside actual SEALs.

The training seemed to have paid off, as the actors looked incredibly realistic on screen, with their mannerisms praised for being extremely accurate. The firearms were carried correctly, fingers were off triggers, and the guns were aimed exactly how SEALs would.

The main action scene where they come under fire is extremely long, so we have just included a section of it below, but the longer you watch, the more intense it gets. Unlike other films, these guys really did run out of ammo so can really feel the tension as the drama unfolds on screen.

Django Unchained (2012) – Candyland Shootout

Django Unchained tells the tale of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx), who fights alongside German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), bringing the South’s most wanted men to justice. Along the way, they encounter the infamous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) and aim to rescue Brunnhilde (Kerry Washington), Django’s long-lost love.

The man behind the movie, a certain Mr Quentin Tarantino, is well known for his gratuitously violent films, and Django is no different. In the Candyland shootout scene found below, mayhem quickly descends following the assassination of Calvin at the hands of Dr Schultz. It is then up to Django to fight his way out in any way possible, which leads to some rather spectacular (and gruesome) deaths.

Everything about this shootout just oozes Tarantino, although some people did complain about it being ultra-violent. So why does he make films the way he does? Well, in his own words: “Because it’s so much fun, Jan!”

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