10 Most Intense Shootouts In Movie History

From bank robberies to Mexican standoffs, these scenes kept us locked and loaded to the big screen.

Desperado shootout
Columbia Pictures

Movies have long been packed with action and violence, but filming an intense shootout scene is no easy task for filmmakers. Not only do they have to direct actors to do exactly what is needed at the right time, they also require pyrotechnics, the right kind of firepower, and a crew of safety experts on hand.

It may be difficult and costly, but when it's done well, a movie shootout can make or break a film. These scenes don't necessarily need to involve hundreds of people either; often, a movie shootout between one or two people can be the best in the genre, but there are certainly some that are better than others.

Movie shootouts that are intense enough to make it onto a list like this need to feature a ramping up of action to an inevitable conclusion. It needs to be memorable and, above all else, it has to be necessary to the plot.

Kill counts are a big part of what makes a shootout good, but that isn't everything. The characters need to be interesting and the audience needs to care about what happens to them. Only then can a movie shootout be both intense and memorable enough to become noteworthy.

10. The Terminator - Police Station Shootout

Desperado shootout
Orion Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of those actors who has been in a lot of shootouts. The final battle at the end of Commando comes to mind as a particularly brutal one, but no shootout was as intense and memorable as the one in The Terminator when he storms the police station to find Sarah Connor.

Not only does he drive into the police station after uttering the line that would become his signature catchphrase, "I'll be back," he takes on an entire police department without batting an eye.

Granted, the guy was playing a lethal cyborg sent from the future to literally terminate people, but that doesn't make the fight any less harrowing.

As he storms through the police station looking for Sarah, he wastes 17 cops with a submachine gun and shotgun. This was one of those gunfights that used so many rounds of ammunition, the room filled with smoke, which only helped to add drama to the scene.

The massacre was later referenced in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which confirmed the number of cops who were killed.


Jonathan is a graphic artist, illustrator, writer, and game designer. Jonathan retired from the U.S. Army in 2017 and enjoys researching and writing about history, science, theology, and many other subjects. He writes for ScreenRant, CBR, NerdBastards, Listverse, Ranker, WhatCulture, and many other sites online. You can check out his latest on Twitter: @TalkingBull or on his blog: jonathanhkantor.com