Black Hawk Down
Essentially one long macho gunfight from start to finish, just with a little talking at either end and a suitably emotive, melancholic theme in Denez Prigent’s Gortoz a ran – J’attend (credit also to Hans Zimmer).
Black Hawk Down portrays the Battle of Mogadishu by showing empathy for both the East African people (apart from the Somalia Militia) and the American military forces with relative amounts of tact and respect (particularly for a Michael Bay production). Although let’s be honest, the film’s real purpose is as much about communicating the tragedy of the continued violence in parts of The Horn of Africa as Blood Diamond is concerned with the spurious diamond trade.
Black Hawk Down is all about the gunfight. There is so much shouting, weaponry and bravado, John Rambo wouldn’t even know which way was up if he was casually invited. If you are looking for a recent history lesson, pick up a big book (or at least the one this film is based on). If you are looking for a couple of hours of ‘man time’, watch Black Hawk Down.
Best bit: Tom Sizemore strolling around in the middle of a particularly hairy exchange of bullets as if looking for the ideal picnic spot, while all of his comrades take cover around him.
The best macho gunfight ever committed to film. No arguments please, because I will not listen. If you disagree, it’s because you are wrong. It will never be beaten, nothing will ever come close: Not even Michael Mann himself when trying to duplicate it in both Public Enemies and Miami Vice.
As if Mann hadn’t struck enough gold by securing one of the best ensemble casts in film history, he then has the audacity to stick them into a thoroughly compelling cops and robbers story of epic proportions, give them all guns, at the same time and force them to point them at each other by making the stakes immensely high. A chaotic yet controlled ten minutes of pure cinematic mastery ensues.
Best Bit: Chris Shiherlis’ (Val Kilmer) split-second reaction outside the bank as the cops appear from behind a departing coach.
True Romance is quite possibly the coolest film ever made. It has a colossal ensemble cast who all kindly get together at the end to shoot holes in each other for our viewing pleasure. As is apparently the theme for all good macho gunfights, every single prop and element of mis-en-scene gets obliterated, most notably some feathery cushions, but this time the majority of the characters expire too. Kudos to Tony Scott for keeping the death rate suitably high, but it could have quite easily become even more destructive (even Christian Slater’s Clarence Worley dies in Quentin Tarantino’s original script).
Best bit: Tom Sizemore being Tom Sizemore with the help of the poor man’s Tom Sizemore; the late Chris Penn.
The greatest macho action film ever made also features one of the best gunfights. Bill Duke’s Mac captures a glimpse of the translucent extreme sport-obsessed hunter and proceeds to unload his gigantic weapon in its general direction. Cue the rest of the platoon as they line up next to him and join in the fun without even batting an eyelid as to what they may be shooting at. Shots of muscle and metal are cut with shrubbery being fatally injured and the un-environmentally friendly massacre only comes to an end when all ammunition is positively wasted. I didn’t catch the rest but I think they wounded Slimer at some point.
Best Bit: Mac’s nervous trigger finger maintaining its grip on an emptied old-painless – sounding an unnerving, yet exhilarating metallic grind.
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Much like Predator but somehow more ridiculous; this bullet laden scene in John Carpenter’s classic is gloriously silly as it is essentially a one way blind gunfight where anything but humans get pumped full of lead: stationary, office desks, windows, walls, windows again. Even a stack of paper which is depicted as if it is suffering more than Willem Defoe in Platoon is ripped to shreds repeatedly – pure machismo.
Best bit: The ludicrous amount of continuous shots which purely feature inanimate objects being demolished
An honourable mention goes too:
The Way of the Gun
The epitome of cool as Mr Parker and Mr Longbaugh (Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro) take on an army of uncompromising ‘bag-men’ in the final confrontation of this stylish and mature modern-day Western.
Trivia: Tom ‘the chameleon’ Sizemore played the important but subtle roles of Blain’s hat in Predator and a sheet of A4 in Assault on Precinct 13. He also ad-libbed all of the dubbing for every cast member in the Chinese version of The Way of the Gun.
Image courtesy of Once Upon A Time In The West