The Last Duel: Cinema’s 11 best showdowns



The actors

Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) vs Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) in Heat (1995)

Winner: It’s a draw, for now

Heat boasts one of the loudest, bloodiest shoot-outs ever staged, but the film’s highpoint is a short scene in which two men have a tete-a-tete in a restaurant. According to Michael Mann, the writer-director, the sequence is based on an actual meeting between the real police detective and bank robber who inspired the characters. Whatever its origins, though, what mattered to audiences was getting to see two New York acting legends and old friends, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, playing opposite each other at long last. (They were both in The Godfather Part II, but never in the same scene.) If different actors had starred as Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley, the dialogue wouldn’t have had much of a charge, but sometimes a showdown is less about the characters than what the actors bring to them. On a slightly less Oscar-worthy note, this rule holds true for the tussle between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious 5.

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