5 Phenomenal Non-Western Shootouts

PHENOM 5

In what I think was my second ever Phenomenal 5 I looked at phenomenal western shootouts. Now, over 50 lists later, I’m going to look at 5 phenomenal non-western shootouts. I separated the two mainly because nearly every western features or ends in a big shootout. But over the years movies have found more ways to incorporate great gunplay into their storylines. And let me just say I am a sucker for a good gunfight. To narrowed the list down I stayed away from military and war movies. Like westerns they deserve a list all their own. So no more delaying. Let’s get to it. Now as you can imagine there have been tons of shootouts throughout movie history so it would be dumb to call this the definitive list. But I have no problems calling these 5 non-western shootouts absolutely phenomenal.

#5 – “THE MATRIX”

MATRIX
In 1999 the (then) Wachowski brothers gave us “The Matrix”, a science fiction action picture that quickly gained a huge following. While I don’t love the movie like many others do, I still recognize it for some of its incredible action sequences. The best one involves a shootout that had to make this list. In an attempt to rescue Morpheus, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) have a showdown in a lobby with a group of heavily armed agents. But the two come prepared. With trench coats filled with pistols and sub machine guns, they shoot it out in a stylistic slow motion barrage of bullets. It’s an incredibly slick sequence chock full of gunfire, flying debris, thousands of shell casings, flying bodies. I don’t know about you but that’s right up my alley!

#4 – “THE INTERNATIONAL”

INTERNATIONAL
One of the more underrated movies of the last few years is “The International”. This globetrotting thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts has one of the most realistic and energetic shootouts I’ve ever seen. The two stars are hot on the trail of a corrupt international bank that’s filtering money to arms traders, terrorist groups, and an assortment of other baddies. Owen tracks down an important lead to the Guggenheim Museum. But as he moves to apprehend the lead he finds a heavily armed hit team is waiting. An intense 7 minute shootout follows that’s up there with anything else you’ll see. Lead flies, bullet holes riddle the white museum walls, and glass shatters as Owen tries to make it out alive. This shootout blows me away.

#3 – “THE KILLER” (1989)

KILLER
Director John Woo could have a list all his own. Woo made a name for himself by filming some of the most dynamic shootouts ever. This king of the Hong Kong action movie genre gave me plenty of scenes to choose from but I went with the final showdown from his 1989 film “The Killer”. Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee find themselves at odds with a violent criminal organization known as the Triads (I won’t spoil why). While meeting in a church, the two find themselves surrounded by loads of heavily armed (isn’t that always the case) Triads thugs. An insane shootout follows as the thugs attack the church in full force. Muzzle flashes, screaming gunfire, and an insane assortment of falls are all mixed with Woo’s signature slow motion. Bravo!

#2 – “DESPERADO”

Desperado
I have a real soft spot for Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 action flick “Desperado”. It’s easily my favorite of his Mariachi films. “Desperado” has such a great mix of insane over the top action and hilarious humor. And of course Rodriguez’s style is undeniable. There are several great shootouts in the film but there’s one that stands out for me. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) calls his two guitar case toting buddies and squares off against a drug lord’s gang. In old west style, the two sides square off on a dirt road but this is no old west gunfight. The bad guys pull up in their bulletproof limo armed with assault rifles. But our mariachis aren’t armed with plain old guitar cases. One is actually a rocket launcher and the others are fully automatic mini-guns. The result is a ridiculously wild shootout with a scorching Tito and Tarantula tune playing in the background. Perfection!

#1 – “HEAT”

HEAT
If you ask me about shootouts in the movies one will always instantly come to mind – the downtown firefight in Michael Mann’s fantastic crime thriller “Heat”. First of all the movie is spectacular and features two of our greatest actors, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Pacino is a cop, De Niro is a criminal with a muddy moral compass. De Niro and his crew (which includes Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore) are finishing their final big bank heist when they run into Pacino and a brigade of cops. An intensely realistic shootout follows in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Few shootouts can match what Mann gives us here. The loud sounds of accentuated gunfire bouncing off of the buildings and the brilliance of how it’s shot and edited pull you into the middle of the chaos. It’s truly phenomenal!

So how those five non-western shootouts? Agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know what shootouts would have made your list.

“JACK AND JILL” – 1 STAR

Adam Sandler has become a machine that produces what seems like an endless number of garbage comedies. Whether he’s the lead actor, writer, or producer, his movies feel like retreads that hit many of the same notes and feature the same sloppy filmmaking. In “Jack and Jill” his one attempt at originality has him playing dual roles as brother and sister. Then again it’s hard to call it original when everyone from Tyler Perry to Jean-Claude Van Damme have done it. But here Sandler manages to create one of the most obnoxious and unfunny characters to go with this obnoxious and unfunny film.

Sandler plays Jack, a Los Angeles advertising executive who has made a good life for himself. He’s married to Erin (Katie Holmes) and has two eccentric children. Each year at Thanksgiving his compulsive, neurotic twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler) comes to visit from New York. Jill drives Jack (and the audience) crazy with her quirkiness and bizarre behavior even though his wife and kids are crazy about her. Al Pacino plays himself in what could be defined as the low point of his career. He’s completely unhinged and over-the-top as evident by his infatuation with Jill. There’s also a host of cameos ranging from Regis Philbin to Shaquille O’Neal. None of them add much to the movie with the exception of Johnny Depp who provides a couple of the film’s few laughs.

“Jack and Jill” bombards us with overused sight gags, pathetically lame dialogue, and tons of boring comedic clichés. Apparently farts, diarrhea, and armpits are still funny in Sandler’s world and he’s so kind to give us so many of them. But in many ways he has to rely on that nonsense since there is nothing redeeming about the script. It’s pure laziness and there isn’t enough here to even make for a satisfying SNL skit much less a full length movie. There’s also a shamelessly large amount of product placements in this film that did more to make this movie feel like one big cash grab by everyone involved.

Then there’s Jill, a character that is so cartoonish it’s impossible to find a real human quality in her. She’s so outlandish that once the movie tries for sympathy and sentiment it feels like a complete fabrication. And I never saw Jill as anything more than Adam Sandler in drag. She’s certainly not interesting or convincing and she has absolutely no charm whatsoever. She’s like fingernails on a chalkboard and I found myself just wishing she would shut up. And since the biggest joke of the movie is Sandler dressed as a woman, it’s complete and utter ineffectiveness is the ultimate death knell.

I can only remember two scenes that got any kind of laugh out of me. Everything else in “Jack and Jill” is mind-numbingly bad. This is one of those movies that should have been an automatic bomb at the theaters but somehow made almost $150 million. Is this what we’ve grown to call comedy? I understand that comedy and humor is subjective. But how can such poor conception and shoddy filmmaking get a pass? And what on earth is Al Pacino doing here? Does he need money this bad? Early in his career, Adam Sandler made some pretty funny films. But now he’s a one-trick pony who seems more interested in dollar signs than the quality of the movie. Even worse, “Jack and Jill” may be the worst movie on his resume and that’s saying a lot.