Rockstar Recommends: A Chronology of Favorite Movie Shootouts and Standoffs
As we highlight the varied cinematic influences of Max Payne 3, from the franchise's nod to Hong Kong action cinema and film noir and neo-noir, to the specific reference points of Brazilian elite police forces and dangerous underworld criminals you'll encounter in the game - today, we highlight a history of some of our favorite sequences of rugged shootouts and intense standoffs as well as movies in general with scenes of exceptional gunplay.
Certainly, Max as a character owes a debt to the great tradition of moviedom's brooding action-heroes who walk softly and wield a big stick with uncanny precision. At its best, the experience of playing any Max Payne game, but especially this new and evolved entry in the franchise, is meant to take that passively vicarious thrill of seeing a cool and unflappable hero dispense justice and revenge – and turn it into an adrenaline-pumping first-hand sensation of action. Imagine the ante being upped with the prospective of going online to face off against a lopsided army of assailants in a multiplayer mode like Payne Killer, and you'll have a pretty good sense of how we're aiming to take inspiration from these sorts of classic shootouts and faceoffs into an epic videogame experience.
Without further ado, enjoy this chronology of some of our favorite scenes and trailers from classics and guilty pleasures alike...
Paul Muni in “Scarface” (1932)
Over 50 years before De Palma’s landmark remake, Howard Hawks pushed the envelope in this original Pre-Code era crime classic of the early 1930s. If you've only ever seen the remake, we highly recommend you look up the original which tracks very closely story-wise - including the finale where immigrant gangster Tony Camonte and his beloved sister are sieged upon in a bloody and bullet-laden life-or-death standoff.
James Cagney in “White Heat” (1949)
"Top of the world, ma!" One-man-army standoffs in the movies don't get much more iconic than Jimmy Cagney's Cody Jarrett defiantly shooting it out til the bitter, raging, and literally explosive end against an entire police force.
Victor Mature & Lee Marvin in "Violent Saturday" (1955)
A great, tense technicolor Noir starring Victor Mature and Richard Egan as small-town folks that get caught in the middle of a vicious bank robbery perpetrated by a scheming crew of hoods. It all leads to a climactic showdown at a local farm just outside of town, with Mature holed up in a barn fending off the crooks with help from Amish farmer Ernest Borgnine.
Franco Nero in "Django" (1966)
Long before it became fashionable in the 1980s for lone movie heroes to indiscriminately rain down a bulletstorm on legions of baddies, and several years before Sam Peckinpah would disturb the traditional order of the Western genre with his ultraviolent "The Wild Bunch", this spaghetti Western starring Franco Nero as an Eastwood-esque gunslinger set the stage. Not to be confused with the recent Japanese rendition or the upcoming Tarantino homage.
Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry in "The Enforcer" (1976)
The morally complicated, snarling archetype of no-nonsense trigger-happy detective as iconically portrayed by Clint Eastwood (a role originally offered to both Frank Sinatra and John Wayne). Hardly a practioner of prudence and mercy, Dirty Harry employs a machiavellian approach to policework and the satisfaction he seems to get out of blasting a crook with Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson is palpable.
Sam Peckinpah's "Cross of Iron" (1977)
The legendary Sam Peckinpah takes on the art of the war film with the same brutally visceral approach he pioneered with "The Wild Bunch". While stark depictions of the violent savagery of war have been an appropriate tradition of war films from "All Quiet on the Western Front" through "Saving Private Ryan" and beyond - this one was surely a turning point for the genre.
Charles Bronson in “Death Wish I, II & III” (1974; 1982; 1985)
Originating as a slightly more subdued thriller and bit of social commentary adapted from Brian Garfield’s 1972 novel about a liberal NYC accountant who turns into a merciless vigilante after a violent attack on his family – the series went full-on Rambo by the mid-80s with Bronson taking on an entire neighborhood of caricaturish thugs straight out of a Police Academy movie. Check out the multiplayer videogame-esque scene from Part III above.
Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” (1988) and “Die Hard 2” (1990)
The 1980s brought us a barrage of brawny, heavily-armed action heroes gunning down foreign villains with steel-jawed seriousness - from Stallone's Rambo, to Schwarzenegger's "Commando", to Chuck Norris' busy 80s filmography (special acknowledgment as well of course to Jack Howitzer). And while Arnold had been known to crack wise on occassion, it was Bruce Willis' John McClaine that turned the action hero from a humorless self-righteous killing machine into a much more relatable, and likeable witty character - leading to a new trend and trope of jokesters in the throes of gun battle. The sequel featured the franchise's most epic gun battle seen above.
John Woo's “Hard Boiled” (1992)
We previously had featured "The Killer", as an exemplary reference point of the Hong Kong action film vibe that's inspired the Max Payne franchise since the beginning. We'd be remiss not to include this one as well in our lineup - neck-and-neck with "The Killer" as the best of the John Woo / Chow Yun Fat collaborations. Tense and very stylized - the scene above is a standout as a long take of Yun Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai shooting their way through a hospital.
Tom Berenger in "Sniper" (1993)
Taking cues from the lone warrior soldier craze of the 1980s and a tagline lifted from Christopher Walken's "one shot" motto in "The Deer Hunter", this one refines the Rambo mold to be a sniper expert - dispatched on a mission duelling against enemy forces and rival sharpshooters in the jungles of South America. Some classic Don LaFontaine voiceover work in this 1990s trailer.
Pacino, DeNiro, Kilmer etc in “Heat” (1995)
Perennially atop many lists of all-time great shootout scenes, this 10-minute, unrelenting sequence of Kilmer, DeNiro and their gang facing off against Pacino and his police force at the scene of a bank heist is indisputably one of the best. Above is a pretty neat behind-the-scenes feature looking into how the scene was made - watch the original sequence here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL9fnVtz_lc].
Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
The last great American war film. A standard-bearer in the footsteps of "Platoon" and "Full Metal Jacket" a decade earlier - this one shocked audiences' and critics' sensibilities with its unrelenting, and honest, depictions of the horrors of war. With scenes like the jarring sniper sequence above, it featured a level of violence very against type for Best-Director-winning Spielberg, and helped to spark a resurgent trend of war epics through the early 2000s ("Black Hawk Down", "Pearl Harbor", etc).
The Wachowski Brothers’ “The Matrix” (1999)
Finally, at the dawn of the millennium came this blockbuster action shooter with a surreal, sci-fi slant. The stylized shootout in the lobby with its balletic slow-motion, impossible physicality, and innovative technical camerawork took the cues of Hong Kong action cinema to a entirely new level.