Who doesn't love a good old shoot-out to conclude their movie?
It's a given within cinema structure - ever since the Western's early popularity - that all threads should lead to a showdown that wraps up your film in an exciting and satisfying fashion.
Throughout cinema history, there's plenty of examples to choose from of this. Whether that's in landmark classics, overlooked gems or your average film that knew how to end with a bang - all have been taken into consideration here.
The examples that truly stand out are movies that have taken all its structure's building elements and organically paid it off it in a pulse-pounding conclusion. Rip-roaring excitement, jaw-dropping technical finesse and emotional pathos are also a plus.
Now, it must be noted the scene needs back-and-forth gunplay with this excluding stuff like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which featured a 'stand-off' instead. Also, the set-piece has to happen within the final ten minutes of the movie to count, negating such classic examples as The Untouchables and The Matrix from consideration.
Lastly, there is only one entry per director. This choice was given because otherwise you would just be subjected to a John Woo and Sam Peckinpah list with little variety and some gems missing their chance in the spotlight.
19. Manhunter (1986)
Long-time director Michael Mann is no stranger to creating rip-roaring shoot-outs within his output. When it comes to finales though, there is only one choice; his 1980s adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon.
Silence Of The Lambs (1991) etched out a formula for all third acts for this type of movie. What’s so refreshing here, is Mann’s movie proceeds that formula and goes in an exhilarating bombastic direction instead; as the iconic notes of Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love begin strumming and an unorthodox jump-cut style highjacks the film’s former slow-burn neon atmosphere.
In the third act, William Peterson’s conflicted profiler narrows in on Tom Noonan’s terrifying (yet sympathetic) serial murderer to his homestead. The elusive murderer resorts to his ‘if-all-else-fails’ plan by pulling out a shotgun and taking on the cops in heart-pumping fashion. Peterson barely makes it out alive when the hulking figure utterly destroys him in a hand-to-hand fight before the two lethally trade bullets.
It’s not one of the most epic displays of gunplay (even within Mann’s filmography) - but is hands down one of the most unique and terrifying.