The Matrix, Keanu Reeves, Neo

Top 10: Movie Shootouts of All-Time

CineFix is, again, for film lovers, one of the best content producers on YouTube, constantly throwing up thought-provoking lists that are unique that each entry on it tends to summarize an entire category.  For example, for this Top 10 Shootouts List, there’s battles, international films, science fiction films, westerns, etc.  While their lists don’t always line up with what mine would be, I often learn a lot, and at least four from their list would undoubtedly make mine including their #1.  First, as a content warning, this is a top ten list about gun violence so it is obviously violent and thus fair warning is given.
Barry Pepper, Saving Private Ryan

That actually brings up a question: why is gun violence, which is so abhorrent in reality, so compelling on film?  Whatever your political views on firearms rights are, the fact of the matter is that nothing awesome ever happens when a gun is used in real life.  However, when put into a film, that fantasy element kicks in and we get scenes like the lobby shootout in The Matrix, which is one of the best action scenes ever filmed.  It’s a dichotomy that’s bothered me, and my personal moral resting place is, I do not like guns ever used in a way that doesn’t show the consequence, realistically, of them being used.  I think most every war film before Saving Private Ryan is irresponsible, as I do Westerns during their heyday (with some obvious exceptions).  When you get shot, you don’t clasp your hands to your chest, and wobble around before falling over bloodlessly.  You’re more likely to have a large part of you disappear in a cloud of red mist.  I think it’s equally ridiculous when Tarantino uses squibs that contain enough blood to satisfy a coven of vampires for a decade for shootouts like the climactic one in Django Unchained that turn comedic in the tidal wave of red slosh flying across the screen.  Ideally, it’s easier to see them used on computer constructs (as in The Matrix), robots, aliens, or zombies, and then you don’t have to think about the horrible events that pervade our reality.  That being said, they do, and hopefully the realistic consequence of their usage portrayed provokes memories that impact real-life decisions positively, though the argument to the contrary is certainly also valid.  They’re a part of cinema and it’s a well-constructed list, but I thought it would be irresponsible to post it absent some kind of discussion, especially since the ratings board thinks a nipple or cigarette is more injurious to the psyche of American youth than violence from any weapon.
Heat, Robert DeNiro

One thought on “Top 10: Movie Shootouts of All-Time”

  1. In Kubrick’s Lolita, when Humbert shoots Quilty, Quilty says, “Ow, that HURTS.” It’s only a small moment, but it made a big impression on me when I first saw the film at a too-young age, and it was a mark of how rarely the actual consequences of gun violence used to be shown. All my favorite war movies, like River Kwai, and Private Ryan tell the truth about war. All my favorite Westerns, like The Searchers, paint the old west as a very dark place, because of all the violence. Cartoon violence, like in Arnold’s 80’s output, can be incredible fun, but let’s be careful what we normalize in the minds of our kids. I believe that Hollywood has taken a huge leap forward morally, now that Private Ryan has set the tone.


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