The most jaw-dropping movie moments include scenes from Star Wars, The Sixth Sense, Se7en, and more.
The best filmmakers know that if they want their movie to have staying power, and the long-lasting legacy that comes along with it, then they truly have to innovate on all fronts. Whether these innovations are through mind-bending plot-twists, or scenes that seemingly defy the laws of nature and physics, it’s not a job to be taken lightly.
And the 10 jaw-dropping movie moments that we’ve chosen to talk about aren’t obscure properties by any stretch of the imagination. You may have seen every single film on this list, but when a film is so expertly crafted, it warrants repeat watches.
10. Bullitt – Car Chase Scene
Considered by many to be one of the greatest car chases of all time, the chase scene in 1968’s Bullitt truly pulls no stops. When Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) realizes his Mustang is being tailed by a Dodge Charger driven by two hit-men, he hightails through the streets of San Francisco.
And the events that unfold would even make Dom and his family (Fast and Furious franchise) blush. If there’s one thing we know about San Francisco, it is that the city has got some serious hills, but they’re no match for Bullitt’s Mustang.
The most gripping aspect of this sequence is how quickly the hunters become the hunted. Bullitt expertly conceals himself on a side-street to shake off the tail, and before you know it, he’s pursuing the Charger in a gripping 10 minute sequence that ultimately ends with the fiery death of the hit-men who had it out for him.
And one of the most stunning aspects of this scene was the us of a first person perspective. In other words, we see what the drivers see from behind the steering wheel, which only makes the chase more intense.
9. The Wild Bunch (1969) – Final Shootout
You’d think that by now we’d be desensitized by the violence portrayed in film and television, but it’s safe to say that the Battle of Bloody Porch from The Wild Bunch has so much carnage, that it’s still difficult to process. This five-minute scene took 12 days to film, and used somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000 squibs to emulate all of the gunfire. What’s more, there are over 300 edits in this five-minute sequence.
So not only should you be shocked by the sheer amount of graphic violence found in this sequence, you should also save some sympathy for the editors, who were probably working double-time to put it together. There are two words that can be used to describe the final shootout in The Wild Bunch, and they are: sensory overload.
8. The Usual Suspects (1995) – Keyser Soze
If the twist ending of The Usual Suspects blew your mind, then you absolutely know what it felt like when Agent Dave Kujan realized that he let Roger “Verbal” Kint walk out of the precinct a free man.
The climax of this reveal is marked when Kujan drops his Kobayashi mug on the floor in a moment of cinematic silence after surveying his own office, and realizing that much of the information was pulled from his own notes, and the bottom of his coffee mug. Kint was Keyser Soze
It’s at this very moment that Kujan, and the audience, realizes that the story that they’ve been so invested in up to this point in the film has been entirely fabricated by Verbal.
And our jaws all but dropped to the floor upon the realization that Verbal’s painful limp was also a fabrication, as we see him walking away from the precinct with a purposeful stride.
7. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – The Snap
In a moment of hatred, Thor hurls his mighty Stormbreaker at Thanos, striking him in the chest, which was thought at first to be a fatal deathblow. But Thanos looks him in the eye as the axe is pushed further into his chest, and says “you should have gone for the head,” before snapping his fingers, and teleporting away.
If you’re rude, and at a restaurant, then a finger snap has its own implications. But in the case of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is capable of wiping out half of the universe’s population by rendering them to dust. It’s at this moment, we see the true power of the Infinity Gauntlet when it possesses all six Infinity Stones, and we cannot believe our eyes.
6. The Terminator (1984) – I’ll Be Back
When Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is trying to get a hold of Sarah Connor at the West Highland Police Station, he’s told that he can’t see her because she’s making a statement and can’t be bothered. After quickly surveying the room, the Terminator says the iconic line, “I’ll be back,” before calmly walking out of the station. And that’s the last we see of him.
Just kidding. Seconds later, he drives his car through the front of the West Highland Police Station, and goes on a rampage, killing 17 officers in the process. Though we probably should have expected this one, it still caught us off guard, and it’s truly one of the many stunning sequences of cinema from The Terminator that is still talked about, and quoted to this day.
5. “Poltergeist (1982) – They’re Here
Poltergeist was the film that made us all want to get rid of our television sets in the 80s, and for good reason. And for those of you who have small children living with you, you know how terrifying it is when the apple of your eye is standing at the foot of your bed, talking in a sing-song voice.
This is exactly what happens when young Carol Anne Freeling hears faint, menacing whispers coming through the TV static just before evil spirits make their way into the Freeling family’s bedroom.
The thing about five year olds is that oftentimes they aren’t aware of the gravity of certain situations. Though kids are known to fixate on the television, it’s normally because of Saturday morning cartoons, and not because of the evil spirits that are trying to reach out from a world beyond our comprehension.
And when little Carol Anne Freeling eerily sings that “they’re here,” it sends a shiver straight down our spines every single time.
4. The Sixth Sense (1999) – I See Dead People
The Sixth Sense put M. Night Shyamalan on the map as the undisputed master of plot-twists. In the film, we see child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) desperately try to help Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) with his innate, and terrifying ability to “see dead people.” Though we saw Crowe get shot at the beginning of the film, we were led to believe that he survived the attack.
But then it happens. It’s revealed to us that Crowe was in fact fatally shot, and what’s even crazier is that all the clues were right there under our noses. But since the film is mostly from Crowe’s perspective, we were led to believe that his marriage was on the rocks, which is why his wife, Anna, was so cold to him at their anniversary dinner.
What we didn’t know at the time’s was that she was simply grieving over the loss of her husband, and that she couldn’t even see him sitting across the table from her.
And of course now we all understand why Crowe was able to interact with Cole Sear in the first place. He was a ghost, and he was haunting him like the others.
3. Jurassic Park (1993) – T-Rex Attack
Jurassic Park did a wonderful job in expressing the importance of electric fence maintenance and upkeep. Though we knew that it was going to hit the fan when a severed goat leg splattered onto the windshield, we don’t think anybody was ready for the subsequent mayhem.
And there’s so many great moments in this sequence. We have the giant T-Rex eyeball pressed against the window of the car before smashing its head through the glass ceiling. We have Donald Gennaro getting swallowed whole after running off to hide in the bathroom.
And of course, we have Alan Grant, and Ian Malcolm (who’s tired of being right all the time), using road-flares to divert the T-Rex’s attention away from Lex and Tim Murphy, who are trapped inside the car that the T-Rex has flipped over at this point.
It’s safe to say that after eating a couple tires, the apex predator developed an appetite for the screaming kids trapped inside.
2. Se7en (1995) – What’s In The Box?
Before we even address the final scene of Se7en, we need to talk about the first jaw-dropping reveal. In the third act of the film, when John Doe is revealed, we see Kevin Spacey for the first time. In order to keep the identity of John Doe a secret, Spacey insisted on leaving his name out of the marketing, as well as the opening credits.
And this was truly a power move on his part, because if we saw his name in the credits, and no appearance in the first two acts, then we’d probably all know he was the man behind John Doe.
But the real reveal here is the infamous “what’s in the box?” scene, when David Mills (Brad Pitt) repeatedly asks John Doe what’s in the box. Up to this point in the film, five murders have been committed based on the seven deadly sins: gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, and pride.
When it’s revealed that Mills’ wife’s head is in the box, and even worse, that she was pregnant with Mills’ child, it becomes clear that John Doe wants Mills to kill him for the sin of envy. In other words, John Doe was envious of Mills’ life, and needed to be taken out according to his own twisted logic.
As Mills unloads his gun into John Doe, he becomes the personification of wrath by carrying out Doe’s plan, which none of us were expecting up to this point.
1. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) – I Am Your Father
When Darth Vader revealed to Luke Skywalker that he was his father in The Empire Strikes Back, we were just as shocked as Luke Skywalker himself. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch, but none of us were ready for that bomb to be dropped, even most of the cast and crew!
It’s one thing to pull such a twist over on your audience, but this was a whole new level of four-dimensional chess that bamboozled everybody else working on the project.
Mark Hamill even went on record stating that during principal photography, only he, Irvin Kershner, and George Lucas knew about the reveal, which was dubbed by James Earl Jones in post production.
During production, the dialogue spoken by Vader was, “You don’t know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father.” And we’re so lucky that Hamill kept tight-lipped about the reveal for over a year, because the payoff has truly gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time.