William Holden in one final blaze of glory.
Wild Bunch is a western movie about a group of guys who rob a bank but when they get back to their campsite where an old guy is waiting for them with some fresh horses they find out the only thing they shot their way out of town and lost most of their guys for was a bunch of useless washers. This sets the tone for the entire movie.
The remaining guys don’t have much luck until they have one final showdown in an attempt to redeem themselves. I can’t think of any other movie that does a better job of defining the end of not one but two different eras at the same time.
On one hand it represents the very end of the old west when the very last of the desperadoes are all forced to move into the last wild parts of Texas and Mexico. It also represents the end of the classic era of cinema. Movies would never be quite the same again after this movie tore down what ever remaining barricades there were for movies and it paved the way for the early 1970s, which was probably for movies one of the most subversive and counter culture moments of all time.
This movie boasts not one but two really good action scenes at the beginning and the end of the movie. The second of the two will probably blow your mind the first time you see it because while there have been bigger action scenes there has never been a larger amount of raw carnage during one scene in a movie I have seen before. This scene can only be truly appreciated if you watch the rest of the movie first, though, because the set up is just as important as the scene itself as you see what four guys do when they are forced into the last corner of free America. Give them hell, Pike.