Title should be self evident. These are my favorite shootouts in film history. And by shootouts, I mean there needs to be bullets flying everywhere and decimating both the flesh and the walls/doors/cars/glass. And what is it about them that makes them the best? Well, if it makes me want to watch them more than once, that’s usually a good sign. Otherwise, it depends on the camerawork, the sound effects, how believable it is (or that it’s so awesome I don’t care), and how much practical effects are used to show where the bullets hit (as opposed to CG, because CG is bullshit). And war films do not count (that’s too easy).
And I’ll start by listing a couple of the most famous and well-known ones first, just to get that out of the way. Other than that, no real particular order.
Michael Mann’s magnum opus. The shootout scene to end all shootout scenes. Set the bar so high, it’s argued no one has ever surpassed it. Intelligent and militarily skilled bank robbers against the police force.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
A band of outlaws making a stand against a small army. With an insane number of bloodpacks used.
Three main action sequences, but the long take during the insane finale tops them all. John Woo’s magnum opus. One of those films where you don’t care that it’s over-the-top. Now, while John Woo has made other films with shootouts that some would argue are on-par with this one (ex: The Killer, A Better Tomorrow 2), I’m only including one John Woo film on this list; just as I’m only including one Michael Mann film.
Patriots Day (2016)
This surprised the hell out of me, seeing something like this in this film, especially during that time period.
Den of Thieves (2018)
This is basically the film that wants to be Heat, and fails. But the finale certainly was a good effort.
Way of the Gun (2000)
The movie itself is all-around solid, if a little overly ambitious with the plot and its twists. Still, there’s no denying that the shootout is one of the great ones.
Rolling Thunder (1977)
My favorite revenge film.
Better than Public Enemies.
In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders (1988)
Made for TV movie that’s better than what you would expect, especially from the time period. This is the one shootout that makes a strong effort to re-create how it actually went down.
The International (2009)
One of the most underrated films ever made. Very accurate depiction of how corrupt international banks are, and why we’re powerless to stop them, and how debt is utilized for control. Also has a nice shootout scene for the cherry on top.
Probably the greatest “last stand” in a film ever. “Say hullo to muh lil’ friend!”
The Matrix (1999)
We all thought this was the coolest shit ever back in the day. Doubt that’s changed now.
The Terminator (1984)
A little one-sided.
Death Wish 3 (1985)
Honestly, the shootout sequence is the only reason to watch the movie. The rest of it is boring as shit.
Operation: Daybreak (1975)
Honestly, there’s no need to see the remake Anthropoid when this version exists. It’s better in every way. Oh, what’s that? This is a war film? I don’t care! It’s not a battle between two armies or squadrons! Plus it’s my list!
Edit (6-5-2020): Added In the Line of Duty: The FBI Murders.