Sam Peckinpah's reputation for creating violent, action packed, blood soaked movies, on the strength of this viewing is deserved.
The Wild Bunch starts out in Texas in 1913. Pike Bishop, played by William Holden, is the leader of a gang of ageing outlaws, who plan to do one more robbery before retiring.
The gang featuring, amongst others, screen legend Ernest Borgnine (Dutch Engstrom), set out to rob a railroad office, where they learn that a cache of silver is being held.
Unknown to the robbers, the railroad office is being staked out by a posse of men hired by the railroad company, lead by Bishop's former partner Deke Thornton played by Robert Ryan, who has been promised a full pardon if he apprehends the wild bunch.
After the botched robbery attempt, the outlaws make their escape across the border to Mexico, and encounter General Mapache, a corrupt dictator, who wants the outlaws to steal a large consignment of weapons being taken by locomotive to a U.S. army base in exchange for $10,000 in gold.
Angel, a member of the gang, who is opposed to Mapache's regime, makes a deal with Pike to exchange his share of the money offered for one of the cases of weapons to be smuggled to a group of rebels, who want to bring down Mapache.
As you might already have gathered, things go rather awry.
Comparing this film to fellow AFI 100 selection #96 The Searchers, although they're both westerns, The Wild Bunch has a visual style of it's own, with multiple camera angles, as well as slow motion sequences that really emphasise the grimness of the graphic shoot outs.
Although the film runs for a total of 145 minutes, it never feels like any undue padding has been added, and the pace of events keeps you wanting to know what happens next.
So overall, a good solid western.