Dale Dye perhaps ushered in the modern era of proper tactical and weapons training for actors when he worked with Oliver Stone on Platoon. He’s been doing the same thing ever since, and if you liked Saving Private Ryan because the actors actually looked like soldiers he is one big reason why. There are now a number of actors and directors who insist on realistic action scenes and weapons handling, but sometimes finding them can be a needle in a haystack. In this edition of the blog I will be covering what I think are the Top 10 Most Realistic Hollywood Gunfights. Not necessarily best, or most entertaining, but most realistic. I am deliberately not including military movies or movies based on actual events (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Tears of the Sun, etc) for a number of reasons, not the least of which is later on this year I’m going to cover what I think are the 10 best war movies.
I’m sure many of you will agree with some of my choices here, and even more will tell me I’m wrong, or I forgot some cinematic gem. Take your best shot.
Okay, I borrowed the “You shot my gun!” line from one of my favorite comedies from the ‘80s, The Survivors, with Walter Matthau and Robin Williams, but the line fits here. If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out.
Spartan was written and directed by David Mamet, who has had a very successful career writing for movies and the theater. All of his movies seem to have a weird vibe, and Spartan is no different. Val Kilmer plays a character whose role is never specifically explained, but he appears to be a very well respected spec-ops type now involved in training other recruits, and who also does intelligence work. When the daughter of a VERY high ranking government official is kidnapped, under circumstances best not made public, Kilmer gets the assignment to track her down on the QT. I don’t know if Mamet was interested in realism or Kilmer was still dialed in to the proper tactical mindset after the legendary Heat, but while there isn’t a huge amount of gunplay the weapons handling in this movie is very good.
The case leads him to the Middle East, and at one point in the movie Kilmer finds himself in a gunfight in an alley. Initially armed with an HK MP5K, he has to switch to his backup 1911 when his subgun is disabled by incoming fire. I don’t know if I’d ever seen that before in a movie, but the truth is that in gunfights, people tend to shoot at what they are focused on, and so hits to guns and fingers/hands in shootings are a lot more common than you might think.