Clint Eastwood subverts one of the earliest film genres to celebrate violence, and does more than just show the uglier aspects of such brutality-- he strips us of the self-righteousness that justifies it. When "The Schofield Kid" tells Eastwood's William Moony that his victim had it coming, Moony's reply encapsulates the film's theme: "We all got it coming, kid."
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, this film is frequently blasted for its shocking, over-the-top bloodshed. But a deeper look reveals a scathing, brilliantly prophetic indictment of the mainstream media's irresponsible, sensational treatment of real-life violence.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Stephen Speilberg accomplishes a hyper-realistic depiction of valor in service of freedom for humanity in this film's brutal D-day scene.
Torn Curtain (1966)
After years of showing how easy it is for someone, anyone, to turn violent, Hitchcock's later works began taking all the fun out of killing. You need only watch this scene from Torn Curtain to see murder in all its difficulty.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Two Irish-Catholic vigilantes doing God's work in Boston are praised by town and the FBI, but the viewer is forced to question the fine line of morality these men tread: Are the brutal execution scenes fit to be seen as altruistic and in line with the brothers' religious faith?
Three Kings (1999)
Notable for this shot, in which the camera follows a bullet through a cross-section of the human body, vividly demonstrating the internal damage caused by a gunshot wound. It's a highly stylized, but certainly not glamorized, view of modern warfare.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Of the film, starring Dustin Hoffman as a neurotic bookworm who resorts to animalistic violence when his home is invaded, director Sam Peckinpah "I intend it to have a cathartic effect. Someone may feel a sick exultation at the violence, but he should then ask himself, 'What is going on in my heart?' I want to achieve a catharsis through pity and fear."