/Response: Your Favorite Movie Gunfights

raiders of the lost ark

(Welcome to /Response, the companion piece to our /Answers series and a space where /Film readers can chime in and offer their two cents on a particular question.)

Earlier this week, the /Film team wrote about their favorite movie gunfights of all time. We then opened the floor to our readers: what is your favorite cinematic gun battle? And you let us know!

We have collected our favorite answers (edited for length and clarity) below. Next week’s question: what comic book series (superhero or not) should be made into a TV series? Send your (at least one paragraph, please) answer to slashfilmpitches@gmail.com!

The Matrix

While there could be 40 different scenes from either John Wick film to choose from, I am going with younger…well, that doesn’t work as he doesn’t age…eh, beardless Keanu Reeves. The lobby scene in The Matrix still stands out to me as the best gunfight in modern cinema. Cue that pre-EDM synth!

Before the overuse of computer generated effects and green screens permeated all action scenes, you have a practical set that just gets destroyed throughout the firefight. The debris flying around Keanu and Carrie-Anne Moss as they lay waste to all the cops is a sight to behold, especially in slow motion. Trinity kicking the shotgun over the officer’s shoulder directly into her hands as she shoots him in the back in one fluid motion is the ultimate BAMF move. And who could forget those outfits?! Nothing screams the end of the ’90s more than your main characters decked out in black and sporting a trench coat.

The Matrix was the first DVD I ever purchased, and the second I inserted it into the player, I went directly to this scene (without having to fast forward, WHAT A MIRACLE!). From the moment the revolving doors open and the music starts, to the point that final piece of the pillar falls to the ground, it is non-stop entertainment. If only those metal detectors were outside! (Chase Dunnette)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Sometimes, you don’t know what you are getting into until it hits you in the face. Literally. My favorite gun fight off all time isn’t your typical back-and-forth, raining bullets, shoot ’em up. In fact the whole fight begins and end with a single shot fired. When Indiana Jones runs into a scimitar-wielding foe, you just know it’s about to go down. This is an action adventure movie after all! An awesome sword fight through the streets of Cairo is just the sort of thing one would expect to see in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course, before either man even has a chance to take a step, Indiana Jones channels his inner Han Solo, pulls out his revolver, and shoots first. Just like the swordsman in the film, the audience has no clue they are about to walk into a gunfight until it’s over. This moment is easily one of the most memorable scenes in the Indiana Jones series, and perfectly captures both Indy’s sense of humor and swagger that makes him so cool. (Taylor Griffin)

***

People might say this doesn’t count, but it is a fight, and it does involve a gun. The best part of it is that it wasn’t even supposed to happen. Harrison Ford was supposed to fight the guy with a sword. It was going to be a big Spielberg-adventure-movie-sword-fight scene! But the legend goes that Ford had food poisoning, was too sick to do it and just improvised shooting the guy. It is one of the best parts in an almost perfect movie, and they say it happened on a whim. Is that true? It doesn’t matter. When the legend becomes fact, we print the legend; and this is one of the most famous legends in cinematic history. I can’t imagine the movie without that scene, it’s so Indy, it’s so Spielbergian and breaks the tension of the moment perfectly. There are no big special effects, no choreography, and no stunts –  just two guys, one gun, and perfect timing. Boom – movie magic. (Matt Vernier)

Shoot ‘Em Up

One I’m sure you’ll get many submissions for Shoot ‘Em Up, a movie whose general insanity is only outstripped by its gunfights. There are even a few great moments to choose from here as Smith (Clive Owen) manages to kill a guy with a carrot and complete an entire gun battle while holding a baby. But to top it all off, he manages to have another battle while…making a baby with Donna (Monica Bellucci). I can only imagine what the production meetings were like:

Writer: Okay, so this guy Smith is just basically the world’s biggest badass.

Director: How can we really show how badass he is? I mean I like the whole gunfight with a baby thing, but we need one more set piece.

Writer: Alright, now, just bear with me…what if he has a gunfight while he’s having sex?

Director: It just might work.

And it does! This is the only movie I’ve ever seen that could even pull something like this off. Shoot ‘Em Up isn’t a great movie, but it does take the cake in crazy gunfights. (Seth Finck)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

This isn’t one of the scenes from the film that people talk most about. Nonetheless no gunfight speaks to me or moves me as much as this one. There is something so haunting about watching The T-800 – initially designed to do bad – helping John Connor save the future even if the people he’s shooting at will never inherently understand who he is or how he’s saving their lives. Shot mostly in haunting blue light, it’s melancholic, dark, beautiful and just plain exciting. Hell, when he says “Trust me” with a smile, it gives me goosebumps. Amidst all this he never once kills a cop as he specifically destroys most of their weaponry. Then he walks away silently as all the cops shoot him down – he has nothing to worry about but nothing to be proud of at all. After all, he’s just doing what he was programmed to do. (Justin Horowitz)

Tombstone

There are numerous gunfights in Tombstone, all of them fantastic, but my personal favorite is the shootout at the river. I love the visual of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday lying on their backs, scrambling in the dirt to reload, blindly firing their shotguns over the logs they’re hunkered behind. You really get the feel that they’ve been in a crossfire like this before. When they see they’re pinned in, the fact that Doc is trying to get Wyatt’s attention really says something their friendship. Doc knows him well enough to know he may do something crazy. And then Wyatt walks straight into enemy fire, and doesn’t take a single bullet. Everyone is amazed, and even his enemy, Curly Bill, smiles in awe. The slow motion “Nooo” before he shoots Curly Bill in the river is a little cheesy, but it doesn’t take away from the scene.

After the fight, Turkey Creek Jack Johnson and Texas Jack Vermillion’s exchange about the miraculous event lets you know that things like that just don’t happen. The best part about this scene is that the events in it are believed to be fairly true to life, according to a statement Wyatt Earp gave to the San Francisco Examiner in 1896. (Danielle Bullis)

The Way of the Gun

There are so many wonderful answers for this question. I could go with a western and name the climactic battle of Open Range or list off something cool like Desperado‘s Bar Brawl or any number of John Woo films. There’s even the absurdity of Michael Bay’s Bad Boys II, with that one gun fight where the camera constantly swirls around.

All of that said, I’ll take a step off the beaten path with Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun. Much like the recent Free Fire, which takes a handful of characters and throws them into an abandoned warehouse for a messy, extended shootout, the finale of this kidnapping caper has lots of bullets being fired in a fairly plausible manner.

It helps that the stakes and goal is clear enough. Ryan Phillippe and Benicio del Toro’s characters are trying to reach their ransom, which has been placed in the center of what becomes a shooting arena. James Caan and his veteran team of bagman are there to stop them. The result is a lot of duck and cover shooting, reloads and some unfortunate wounds. It’s a high energy scene, thrilling to watch and full of determination on the part of our leads. It’s not flashy, it’s dirty and really neat to see, given the layout of the scene. (Aaron Neuwirth)

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