Let's face it: although action movies are often entertaining, they also have a tendency to be highly unrealistic. We're not just talking about the sideways-diving dual-wielding slow-mo pistol fights found in John Woo films — even purportedly realistic action and war movies sometimes feature goofy physics and laughably bad firearms technique.

Bruce willis 16 blocks movie gun scene glock jam

In “16 Blocks”, Bruce Willis is shown aiming a jammed Glock. In the next shot, it continues firing...

We can understand why this is the norm in Hollywood, since fantasy and entertainment value sell more movie tickets than pure realism. It's a lot more dramatic when a grenade launches the villain cartwheeling into the air with a massive fireball, or when a shotgun blast knocks a henchman back 20 feet through two plate glass windows and a fruit stand. While you may see the clip below from Commando and roll your eyes, you'll probably also find Arnie's muscle-bound blank-firing antics at least a little fun to watch.

However, not all movies are unrealistic when it comes to firearms. A select few films put in the time and effort to maintain a sense of authenticity, while still managing to remain entertaining. Director Michael Mann has received praise for his work on the classic heist film Heat, as well as the action thriller Collateral. In Collateral, Tom Cruise plays a ruthless and highly-skilled hitman who has been hired to kill several individuals in a single night.

Vickers tactical collateral movie gun scene 5

Tom Cruise plays a hardened contract killer named Vincent in the 2004 film “Collateral”.

In order to determine if the gunfights in Collateral are based in reality, firearms instructor and Special Operations veteran Larry Vickers analyzed a famous alleyway scene from the movie. In this “Shot for Shot” video, Vickers also recreates the exact technique Cruise used — drawing from concealment, deflecting the mugger's gun with his free hand, firing two rounds from retention, and transitioning to put three more rounds into the next threat.

Vickers calls this “one of the best movie gunplay scenes ever”. Do you agree? If not, what's your favorite movie gunfight scene, and why?


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