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Would You Survive a Movie Gunfight?

A comprehensive breakdown of how to behave during a filmed firefight — and a quiz to find out if you’d make it out alive

(Ringer illustration)
(Ringer illustration)

I. The Warehouse

In Free Fire (released Friday), set almost entirely in an old warehouse in 1970s Boston, a group of people attempts to buy guns from a different group of people. Things go sideways, one person from one group shoots (but doesn’t kill) a person from the other group, then a person from the aggrieved group shoots (but doesn’t kill) a person from the first group in retaliation, and after that they all scatter and then spend the next hour crawling around and shooting at each other while saying things, some of which are funny and cool, others of which are meant to be funny and cool but are not. It’s a fun enough movie, I suppose, but mostly it brings up a question: Would you — or, rather, could you — survive a movie gunfight?

There’s a quiz at the end of this that will tell you exactly that.

II. The Distraction

First, and I cannot believe I have to say this, but shooting people in real life is not cool and it’s not great. It’s super not those things. In fact, it’s one of the worst real-life things you can do to someone, somewhere below shooting someone whom that person loves, which is definitely worse, and somewhere above not returning a text message, which is definitely a bad thing to do to someone but not as bad as shooting them. So don’t do it. Shooting people is stupid. Guns are stupid.

THAT SAID, shooting someone in a movie is kind of the best thing, or the coolest thing, or the most intense thing. Do you remember in Taken when Liam Neeson shot that man’s wife in the arm because the man wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear? That shit was crazy. (That was honestly the only part of the movie that completely shocked me.) Or that scene they always do in any movie that has a sniper in it where the alpha sniper shoots a competing sniper through his scope as the other sniper’s trying to shoot the alpha sniper? (The other great thing they do in any sniper movie is when someone tells someone else it’s "an impossible shot" right before the sniper shoots it.) Or that shootout scene in Running Scared where the one guy shot the other guy in the penis at close range? What about when Ricky got shot? Or when Beatrix Kiddo got shot with the rock salt? Or when Lester Burnham got shot? On and on. Movie shootings can make for excellent movie moments. (Not real-life moments, though.)

The Best Times to Movie-Shoot Someone

  1. When it’s a revenge thing.
  2. When you’re a law-enforcement officer and they’re a bad guy.
  3. When you’re a bad guy and they’re a law-enforcement officer.
  4. When it’s the Wild West and someone is riding toward you on horseback. (This one is great because they always roll off the back of the horse, or, if you’re lucky, they get their foot trapped in one of the stirrups and then the horse drags ’em a good ways.)
  5. When they’re standing on top of a building and you shoot them and they fall off very dramatically. (They have to crash through an awning.)
  6. When it’s the Wild West and someone is riding away from you on horseback. (It’s almost always a coward.)
  7. When they owe you money.
  8. When they said you wouldn’t shoot them.

The Best Kinds of Movie Gun Shots

  1. The close-range double tap. (John Wick turned this one into an art form. That’s why it’s so high now. Nine years ago, it’d have been way lower on this list.)
  2. The one where one guy gets shot, realizes he’s been shot, then fires off a shot as he’s falling backward in slow motion.
  3. The one where you just CANNOT believe they shot the person, even though you absolutely knew it was coming. (A good example of this one is when they shoot Zack at the end of Alpha Dog.)
  4. The one where the guy just sprays a line of bullets with a semiautomatic weapon and he hits, like, three or four nameless bad guys.
  5. The one where the guy comes back from the edge of death, gets one last shot off, then dies.
  6. The aforementioned impossible sniper shot.
  7. The one where the guy, fully enraged because something terrible has just happened, is like, "Fuck it," and then stands up and walks toward all the people shooting at him while he shoots back at them.

The 16 Best Movie Shootout Scenes

(Not including war movie shootouts, movie shootouts that didn’t involve at least five people, and movies that were released before 1980.)

  1. The nightclub scene in John Wick.
  2. The post-bank-robbery scene in Heat.
  3. The warehouse rampage scene in Wanted. (This one is more impressive than the shootout scene in Heat, but Heat is helped by the way that director Michael Mann took such great care in the time leading up to that scene making sure that you cared about all of the people in it. In Wanted, the only person you were really concerned with was Wesley.) (Also, I of course want to recognize that Wesley revolutionized the human-shield defense in this scene. It was incredible.)
  4. The lobby scene in The Matrix.
  5. The bar scene in Desperado. (Antonio Banderas was the star of this movie. It came out in 1995. He was also in Assassins with Sylvester Stallone that same year. There was a great shootout scene in that movie, too, where they’re trying to kill each other in a cemetery. That was a big year for Antonio.)
  6. The post–Calvin Candie’s–death scene in Django Unchained.
  7. The slow-motion baby-carriage-rolling-down-the-stairs scene in The Untouchables. (I’ve seen it, like, six times and I still wince when them bullets hit the carriage.)
  8. The opening scene in Shoot ’Em Up. (This one started with Clive Owen killing a man with a carrot, then coaching a woman through a birth during the gunfight — bullet casings were literally bouncing off her belly — at the end of which he shot the umbilical cord to cut it.)
  9. The jungle shootout scene in Rambo. (This one is too gruesome to even link to. It starts with Rambo slicing a guy’s head off with a machete, then he shoots a guy at close range with a .50-caliber super gun mounted to the back of a vehicle, with the bullets hitting the guy with such force that they explode his whole body. Then Rambo shoots a guy in half. Then Rambo shoots a guy’s leg off. That all happens in just the first 90 seconds of the scene. It’s really and truly and perfectly obscene.)
  10. The shootout scene in The Town.
  11. The big scene in Tombstone.
  12. The motel scene in L.A. Confidential. (Secretly one of Russell Crowe’s three best performances.)
  13. The final scene in Scarface.
  14. The "I only have 12 bullets" scene from Deadpool. (I am honestly still surprised by how good this movie — and this scene — was.)
  15. The police station scene in The Terminator. (HOW IS THIS SO LOW??????)
  16. The hospital scene in Hard Boiled. (John Woo will never get the credit he deserves. Neither will Chow Yun-fat, for that matter.)

III. The Parameters

Back to the quiz. Let’s set it so that the imaginary movie gunfight you are trying to survive is similar to the one in Free Fire: It’s you and, say, nine other people. You’re all in an abandoned warehouse in an area where hundreds of gunshots are not going to draw attention from anyone outside of said warehouse. Everyone has a gun (or multiple guns), but they’re all handguns that are similar in caliber, so no one is at too great of an advantage. Your group is made up of five people and their group is made up of five people. And the gunfight is going to last about an hour.

IV. The Standoff

There are 10 questions. Answer each one as honestly as possible. Each answer will give you a certain number of points (ranging from one to five), and at the end of the 10 questions you’ll just click on whichever link represents the number of points you’ve accumulated. That’s how you find out if you’d survive our movie gunfight. It’d probably be helpful for you to have a piece of paper or something to mark down your points as you go.

‘The Town’ (Warner Bros.)
‘The Town’ (Warner Bros.)

Question 1. Who’s your MVP pick this season?

  1. James Harden (1 point)
  2. Kawhi Leonard (2 points)
  3. LeBron James (3 points)
  4. Late-season Steph Curry (4 points)
  5. Russell Westbrook (5 points)
‘John Wick’ (Lionsgate)
‘John Wick’ (Lionsgate)

Question 2. You’ve been invited to be on ‘Naked and Afraid,’ which is a television show where two strangers are dropped off in the wilderness and have to stay there for three weeks. Per the show’s rules, you are 100 percent naked, but you’re also allowed to bring one thing with you. You can bring anything you want, so long as it isn’t clothes. Which of the following would you choose?

  1. A bottle of bug repellant (1 point)
  2. A 12-inch knife (2 points)
  3. 2 feet of rope (3 points)
  4. A Survival Spark (which helps start fires) (4 points)
  5. A pot to boil water in (5 points)
‘Taken’ (20th Century Fox)
‘Taken’ (20th Century Fox)

Question 3. Imagine that you’ve been given the chance to travel back in time and live as the child version of yourself again for two weeks. And this isn’t a thing where you just go back and relive certain moments; you will have your Right Now brain, with all of its thoughts and insights, dropped into the younger you’s body, which means you have the chance to change things if you want. That all being the case, what age will you choose to relive?

  1. Two weeks of when I was a baby. It’d be great to just not have to do anything other than exist. That sounds like the best vacation. (1 point)
  2. Two weeks when I was 8. (2 points)
  3. Two weeks when I was 13. (3 points)
  4. Two weeks when I was 22. (4 points)
  5. I just want to relive the last two weeks of my life. There’s lots of shit there I’d like to change. (5 points)
‘L.A. Confidential’ (Warner Bros.)
‘L.A. Confidential’ (Warner Bros.)

Question 4. Who was the best Batman?

  1. Adam West (1 point)
  2. Michael Keaton (2 points)
  3. Christian Bale (3 points)
  4. George Clooney (4 points)
  5. Ben Affleck (5 points)
‘Heat’ (Warner Bros.)
‘Heat’ (Warner Bros.)

Question 5. In the 1998 movie ‘Very Bad Things,’ a man accidentally kills a prostitute that he is sleeping with while in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. It happens in the guys’ hotel room, and nobody else besides them knew she was there. Also, the room is covered in cocaine. Were you in that situation, and were you not the person responsible for her death, what would your response be?

  1. I’d call the police. The death was clearly a mistake. Surely they’d be able to see that. Besides, I don’t think they’d be able to charge me with anything. Right? Right? (1 point)
  2. I’d leave as soon as I saw the body. (2 points)
  3. I’d suggest that we get rid of the body, but I don’t really know exactly how we’d do it. (3 points)
  4. I’d just start crying and wait for someone else to figure something else out. (4 points)
  5. I’d begin working on a way to get her body out of the hotel. And like you mentioned, the only people who knew she was there were the people in the room. If we can successfully get somewhere to dump the body, everything’s going to be fine. (5 points)
‘Desperado’ (Columbia Pictures)
‘Desperado’ (Columbia Pictures)

Question 6. Which of the following is the best Prince song?

  1. "If I Was Your Girlfriend" (1 point)
  2. "Adore" (2 points)
  3. "Little Red Corvette" (3 points)
  4. "I Wanna Be Your Lover" (4 points)
  5. "Do Me, Baby" (5 points)
‘Tombstone’ (Buena Vista Pictures)
‘Tombstone’ (Buena Vista Pictures)

Question 7. When you wake up tomorrow morning, you realize you all of a sudden have the ability to see two minutes into the future. How do you convince people that this is a skill you possess?

  1. I tell them to think of any number from zero to a billion, and then I guess it. (1 point)
  2. We go to a crowded mall and stand somewhere and then I keep saying who’s going to walk out of a store over and over again until they believe me. (2 points)
  3. I don’t. Why would I do that? Why would I want people to know? (3 points)
  4. I go to a casino and we just make a whole lot of money on roulette or craps or whatever. (4 points)
  5. I turn on a professional sports game of some sort. I keep guessing what’s going to happen right before it happens until they believe me. (5 points)
‘Free Fire’ (A24)
‘Free Fire’ (A24)

Question 8. Which of the following is more appealing?

  1. Being paid $1 million in cash five years from today. (1 point)
  2. Being paid $800,000 in cash four years from today. (2 points)
  3. Being paid $600,000 in cash three years from today. (3 points)
  4. Being paid $400,000 in cash one year from today. (4 points)
  5. Being paid $200,000 in cash today. (5 points)
‘The Matrix’ (Warner Bros.)
‘The Matrix’ (Warner Bros.)

Question 9. A woman is standing in line at a grocery store with her children. When the woman isn’t looking, one of her kids (he’s 4, maybe 5 years old), takes a bag of peanut M&M’s from one of the boxes they keep near the register and puts it in his pocket. What do you do?

  1. Nothing. That’s on her. (1 point)
  2. Nothing. It’s just a bag of candy. (2 points)
  3. I tell the mom. (3 points)
  4. I tweet about it. It was a funny thing to see. (4 points)
  5. I tweet about it. It was a funny thing to see. When someone points out to me that I should’ve said something because what if the kid has a nut allergy, I delete the tweet. (5 points)
‘Boyz n the Hood’ (Columbia Pictures)
‘Boyz n the Hood’ (Columbia Pictures)

Question 10. You’re eating lunch alone one day. A woman dressed in all black sits down across from you. Before you can say anything, she starts talking. She says, "I cannot tell you who I am, nor can I tell you who sent me. What I CAN tell you is that someone you love is going to die in 10 minutes. And what I can also tell you is that you can save them." She removes a small box from her pocket. The only things on it are a button and the word "YES" typed out in all caps. "If you press this button, the person you love will be saved, but someone else — someone you 100 percent do not know — will die. I will sit here with you for as long as you need to come to a decision." "Who’s the person I love who’s going to die?" you ask. "I can’t tell you that," she says. "Who’s the person who’s going to be the replacement death?" you ask. "I can’t tell you that either," she says. "You have eight minutes left to decide," she continues. "I will not answer any more questions." What are you thinking right now?

  1. I know she said she wasn’t going to answer any more questions, but I would definitely try to ask her more questions. (1 point)
  2. Why would I believe anything this woman says? (2 points)
  3. I mean, how can I not press the button? (3 points)
  4. I mean, how can I possibly press the button? (4 points)
  5. Maybe there’s a way I could talk her into letting me take the place of the person I love. … Wait. OH SHIT. What if I’M the person I love who’s going to die?! (5 points)

V. The Results

Add up the points you earned from each question to get your score. Once you have your score, click on the sentence below that contains your score. It will tell you whether or not you would survive during a movie gunfight.

I scored between 10 and 14 points.

I scored between 15 and 18 points.

I scored between 19 and 23 points.

I scored between 24 and 30 points.

I scored between 31 and 35 points.

I scored between 36 and 39 points.

I scored between 40 and 44 points.

I scored between 45 and 50 points.