A lot of us really appreciate good gun handling in films. “John Wick,” “Heat,” “The Way of the Gun,” and more elevate their status as action films by taking gun handling somewhat seriously. Movies will always be movies, but gun guys and gals can appreciate it when a film takes what they know seriously. It elevates the film and avoids laziness. When you see a film that takes itself seriously with poor gun handling, it just feels lazy. On the flip side, when a movie is over the top in gun-handling skills and lacks any attempt at being a serious film, it can be a fun romp.
Today we are looking at the best over-the-top action flicks for gun guys and gals. While we can all enjoy a good film with good gun handling, we can also enjoy the crazy over the top action of less serious films. Some of these guns are absolutely full of firearms and well worth a watch, so let’s dive in with a little mental junk food.
Going Over the Top
We are going to focus on films that have no ties to reality. Arguably these films are just fun action flicks. They try their hardest to be as extreme as possible, and you won’t see anything practical, and that’s the point. Sometimes you just need a 90-minute violent romp to entertain the caveman part of your brain. Here are my five favorites when I need a dose of fun dopamine that I only half need to pay attention to.
Who didn’t watch “Wanted” and suddenly desired to be so skilled with a firearm to be able to cause bullets to curve in midair? The film taught us that with enough training, defying physics is entirely possible, and if you just think hard enough, you can swing a gun while firing and cause the bullet to curve. That sounds like a great way to win a gunfight. Who needs cover when you can be a bullet bender?
“Wanted” was gloriously over the top with excessive violence, out-of-this-world gunfights, and a great weapon selection. The film is about a desk-bound loser who just happens to be the son of a master assassin, and somehow, he can inherit his father’s gun-handling skills. He’s recruited and trained in the way of bending bullets, martial arts, and jumping through the air while yelling AAHH and firing a gun.
The movie has all manner of cool guns. Angelina Jolie wields a Cornershot that’s pretty cool to see but also silly when you can bend bullets. There is also the highly customized Safari Arms Matchmaster, an MP7, and a number of wheellock, flintlock, and rolling block pistols that are customized to be somewhat modern. It’s a silly but fun movie that embraces the over-the-top nature.
Shoot ‘Em Up
“Shoot ‘Em Up” lives up to its name. It’s chock full of gunfights, violence, and lots and lots of ammo gets expended. It’s a simple movie but a fun one with some gloriously over-the-top action. It’s one of two movies to blend a gunfight with a sex scene and one of the few that makes a parachuting gunfight fun. It feels like a video game they turned into a movie. There are tons of bad guys, and they all receive a dose of lead from our hero Smith, a drifter and former black ops soldier who just so happens to save the baby that a bunch of bad guys are trying to kill.
The man cuts an umbilical cord with a gun, so you know you’re in for a good time. The movie also faithfully represents Hollywood’s feelings on gun rights. The bad guys are a gun company somehow, and the main hero is anti-gun…but he uses guns to do anything, literally. As mentioned, he cuts an umbilical cord with a gun and uses a trigger guard as an engagement ring. The movie’s entire basis is on good guys using guns to stop bad guys, but guns are bad.
Luckily, the film features enough cool guns and crazy action scenes to make up for the stupidity. The bad guy carries a Desert Eagle, which is pretty typical of films. We see USPs, a Micro Galil, Uzis, and shotguns and rifles turned into traps for Smith’s enemies to meet their fate. It’s about as zany as you get without defying physics.
I’ve seen “Hardcore Henry” twice and have no idea what it is actually about. The wife of a dude with robot parts is kidnapped by a bad guy with psychic powers, and the main character can’t speak or something. I don’t know. The loosely connected plot is just a reason to create a fun, violent movie with awesome and epic shootouts. Filming from the first person is an interesting choice and one I haven’t seen replicated. It gives the movie speed and weight and makes it feel like a first-person shooter.
“Hardcore Henry” is somewhat devoid of character. He doesn’t talk, and he interacts with the world via a gun, but hey, it’s an action flick. What does stand out is the many versions of a man named Jimmy and his often varying attitudes and personalities. He’s hilarious, and my favorite is the WW2-era Jimmy that carries a PPSH-41.
The film and director are Russian, so we get a lot of Russian firearms we often don’t see in American movies. This includes the Molot Bekas Shotgun, a Stetchin APS, and the Fort 17. It’s got tons of guns, and we get to see lots of them in first-person view, which is pretty freaking sweet. It’s a 90-minute music video feel of gunplay and violence.
Crank (and Crank 2)
“Crank,” and by extension “Crank 2,” are primetime Jason Statham. It’s an insane premise that sets up the movie for total over-the-top success. A British hitman Chev Chelios works in California and raises hell. He gets poisoned with a drug that blocks adrenaline or something, I don’t know, but basically, if Chev Chelios stops kicking ass, he will die. To keep his heart rate up, he does whatever he has to until someone finds a cure or until he can get revenge.
This involves martial arts, a defibrillator, and plenty of gunfights, car crashes, and beyond. “Crank 2” has a similar theme, but this time he has to keep his battery charged…literally. The movies are just an excuse to have a nonstop action film with Jason Statham doing Jason Statham things.
Chev uses an Xd for most of the movie, which is an odd one we don’t see often. He also carries a Glock, a SIG P226, and many others throughout the film. We get Mossbergs, Serbu Super shorties, and the UMP45, and the sequel gives us the Thunder 5, a Swedish K, and many more. Tons and tons of guns fuel the film, much like the caffeine that keeps Chev’s heart beating.
Finally, we get to one of my favorites of all time, “Predator.” The film follows a black ops team inserted into a Central American country to retrieve a foreign cabinet minister and kill some terrorists. They arrive kick-ass and are seemingly victorious, although something is amiss. It turns out they are being stalked by an alien hunter. The film is fantastic and one of my favorite action flicks.
It’s one of the most over-the-top action flicks out there and really represents the 1980s action film. This is mirrored from the characters down to their firearms. Everyone carries something different and unique. The most obvious is Blaine’s handheld minigun, but there is an M60, an M16 with an attached Mossberg 500, a flare launcher disguised as a grenade launcher, and more.
The action is over the top with glorious hip firing techniques, and accuracy is seemingly perfect regardless. Grenades are launched, shotguns fired, and miniguns do minigun things. Even so, they can’t touch the alien hunting them down.
My Favorite Over the Top Action
My favorite on this list is “Predator,” but I love them all! These are fun flicks with tons of awesome guns and all the action you can shake a stick at. Just as we can glorify “Heat” for its realism, we can embrace these films because of just how much fun they can be. What’s your favorite?