Hollywood gets everything right when it comes to guns. That’s why I get most of my gun-related information from watching TV and movies. Even after writing more than 1,000 gun-related articles, I still have a lot more to learn from the firearms experts in Hollywood.
Just kidding! On the whole, Hollywood does a terrible job of representing proper gun function and use. I get it, though—movies are supposed to be entertainment, not gun documentaries. But that doesn’t mean I can’t pick on those folks. After all, while making gazillions glamorizing guns, they can’t seem to want to take mine away quickly enough.
While there are thousands of bad gun use examples on the big screen, here are nine that stand out as particularly egregious to me. Just a heads-up—there might be some Hollywood violence in the following clips, if that scares you!
1. True Lies (1994): The MAC-10 of Doom!
Helen Tasker (Jamie Lee Curtis) can work a MAC-10 like Jimmy Buffet works a crowd of margarita-fueled Parrotheads. When her husband, super spy Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger), hands her a full-auto machine pistol, with comprehensive operating instructions of “Here, take this,” shortly followed up by “Shoot!” Helen torches off the MAC-10, almost immediately dropping it down a flight of steps. The gun fires a few rounds on its own accord each time it bounces on a step, killing terrorists with each and every bounce. Now that’s stopping power, right?
Even though I loved the movie, I have to call this one out. Everyone knows that the MAC-10 was banned in California. Oh yeah, and guns don’t start going off when dropped.
2. Wanted (2008): Bending bullets!
I know, the assassins in this movie are supposed to have some type of supernatural power, but I don’t think supernatural yoga moves while firing a pistol can make a bullet curve sideways and hit someone around a corner. With the right yoga moves, you can whip a pistol around fast enough while firing to make the bullet follow a sideways arc and curve around obstacles. Angelina Jolie did it with her Safari Arms MatchMaster .45 ACP, so it must be legit, right? Wrong.
3. The Walking Dead (Season 2, Episode 13): Unlimited shotgun ammo code unlocked!
Hershel from The Walking Dead would dominate 3-Gun if he was a real person. In this clip from the final episode of the show’s second season, his pump shotgun appears to have the shell capacity of 13,412. In the final battle for his farm, he unloads, and unloads, and unloads on dozens of zombies. I looked everywhere for the wheelbarrow full of ammo he was toting around, but couldn’t spot it in the scene. He must have fired off at least 50 pounds of 12 gauge shells within a minute or so.
4. True Lies (1994): The “through the van” shot
It may seem that I’m picking on True Lies, but I’m not. The movie is a brilliant form of spy-flick satire in which all the guns and secret agent moves stretch the boundaries of reality—on purpose. With that said, one scene has Harry Tasker dodging a group of bad guys while making his way down a snowy mountain to the waiting spy van. Circling to the far side, he’s talking to his spy buds in the front seat of the van through the open door. Spotting another short-lived henchman on the far side of the van, he casually asks Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov) “Can you lean back a little bit?” and blasts the nameless evildoer through the interior of the van, right across the faces of his spy buddies. Ow!
In real life, a True Lies move that like would stun the snot out of the two guys in front of the muzzle, not to mention preventing them from hearing much of anything until the release date of the sequel.
Extra Bonus Bad Gun Behavior: If you look closely in the scene just prior, you’ll see Harry firing at his attackers with a crossed-thumbs grip on his Glock 19; another bad Hollywood move! In real life, that would have cut the dickens out of this thumb.
5. Casino Royale (2006): The magic explosive handgun grenade bullet
In one scene from Casino Royale, James Bond (Daniel Craig) fires a single shot from his Walther P99 and blows the Nambutu Embassy to kingdom come. It’s a great move if you’ve got a few dozen embassy henchmen covering you, and you need to create a distraction for a clean getaway. I use it all the time when trying to avoid yard work.
Unfortunately, it’s yet another example of Hollywood fantasy, mainly because there’s no country named Nambutu. Oh, and a propane tank won’t simply explode when shot with a handgun bullet.
Even though I’m picking on Hollywood here, I’ve got to give credit where credit is due. In the first episode of The Walking Dead this season, tough-girl character Carol (Melissa McBride) does use a gun to blow up a large propane tank, but she did it in a way that made me a believer. She shoots the tank with a rifle, causing a major gas leak, then launches a large bottle rocket into the forming gas cloud. You can guess the rest (hint: epic kablooey), and I have to say I can believe this scenario. If you ever have to blow up a gas tank, don’t forget to bring fireworks.
6. Almost every movie or TV show ever made: The sexy slide rack
You’ve seen this one. In fact, you probably see it daily. Just before the hero heads into some dangerous situation, he or she does a dramatic hair toss, makes a determined face and racks the slide. Come on, Hollywood! I get that you have to do something to make sure we watch the upcoming action-packed scene, but really? If you go around racking the slide on your guns all the time, you’re going to waste a ton of perfectly good pretend bullets! Ammo is hard enough to find without you ejecting it all over the floor.
7. Commando (1985): Blanks can kill!
I know those Hollywood guys have to use blanks when filming, but I don’t want to see them. Check out Arnie’s M60E3 machine gun and you’ll see a belt full of what are obviously blank rounds. I know, it’s a B movie, but still.
P.S.: Those blanks multiply like bunnies as the belt grows and grows on its own accord as the fight progresses.
8. Air Force One (1997): Airplane gun fights of fail
Harrison Ford, or as I like to call him in this particular movie, the Ass-kickin’ President, has numerous shootouts with evil terrorists aboard Air Force One. Yes, there are pistol and pistol-caliber submachine guns like MP5s, but also real rifles like Colt M4A1 carbines. With all this shooting going on for an hour or so inside a big metal tube, one might expect a lot more damage and chaos. No, a bullet hole isn’t likely to cause explosive decompression like in Goldfinger (1964), but you would think some of those fancy electronics and hydraulic lines might get a wee bit messed up. Even more glaring is the fact that with all that indoor shooting, no one seems the list bit fazed by the noise. Hmmm.
9. Kareteci Kız (Karate Girl) (1973): Worst gun death scene ever?
Last but not least, the grand finale! You can’t talk about worst gun portrayal ever without at least one example of the worst death by a movie gun ever. That award goes to a Turkish film. We’ll let the scene speak for itself. It’s well worth the watch.