We all know and love the inherently cinematic concept of the Mexican standoff: that scenario whereby, after a great deal of carnage, a hardened group of survivors are left pointing weapons at each other.
With High-Rise director Ben Wheatley's hugely entertaining shoot-em-up Free Fire on release from tomorrow, we decided to recap the most nail-biting Mexican standoffs in the history of the movies.
Shaun of the Dead
In Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s hilarious zombie comedy, one of the tensest scenes is when Shaun’s (Pegg) mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), is about to be zombified and David (Dylan Moran) is pointing his gun at her, ready to finish her off.
That is, until Shaun and best pal Ed (Nick Frost) point their broken bottles out towards his throat. Even though David has a good point, he’s such a hatable character we can’t help siding with Shaun and Ed here…
A group of crooks go head-to-head, trying to find out who the rat is in this iconic Mexican standoff from Quentin Tarantino’s classic debut movie. So Joe (Lawrence Tierney) and Nice Guy Eddie’s (Chris Penn) guns are trained on Mr White (Harvey Keitel) and the fatally injured Mr Orange (Tim Roth) whilst White's is pointing at Joe. Eventually shots are fired and they all fall to the ground. Leaving us with the question, who shot Eddie?
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Not many Mexican standoffs are played for laughs, but this one is pretty funny… Hey, even a monkey gets in on the act!
When ‘Pumpkin’ (Tim Roth) and ‘Honeybunny’ (Amanda Plummer) stage a robbery at a diner they think it’s going to be an easy job. What they don’t reckon on is two hitmen (played by Samuel L Jackson and John Travolta) also being in the eaterie, leading to a super-charged standoff between the four of them during the climax of Quentin Tarantino's 1994 masterpiece.
Another great scene from the master of the big screen standoff. In this one, two British soldiers, one of them suave Archie Hickox (Michael Fassbender), have their guns pointed at a Nazi’s testicles, with the Nazi pointing his gun at the former's nuts. And then, after two minutes of almost unbearable tension – pop pop pop! Or indeed ouch ouch ouch!
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Where would a blog about Mexican standoffs be without the great Sergio Leone? Here, the movie climaxes with a nerve-shredding, Ennio Morricone-scored standoff between the Good (Clint Eastwood), the Bad (Lee Van Cleef) and the Ugly (Eli Wallach). The three of them face each other, ready to whip out their pistols, before Good shoots Bad and Ugly realises that Good emptied his gun of bullets the night before.
Yep, ANOTHER Tarantino movie (though this time it’s only written by him). And this one is the mother of all of Mexican standoffs with three groups all pointing pistols at each other.