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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.77%
Worth A Look44.87%
Average: 6.41%
Pretty Bad: 10.26%
Total Crap: 7.69%

6 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Way of the Gun, The
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by Erik Childress

"Loud Violent Twisty Tale Just What the Doctor Ordered"
4 stars

The Way of the Gun is in a very specific genre of film that I love to see. The tough guy/big gun/loud bullets/twisty plot genre. Tarantino’s early work like Reservoir Dogs & True Romance qualifies. So does Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects which won an Oscar for Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay. McQuarrie is now behind the camera (as well as the script) and he’s created one helluva fun ride.

The film opens with one of those pre-credit sequences that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie except to set the tone, which is tough, violent and wickedly funny. We meet Mr. Parker & Mr. Longbaugh (the real names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), two lowlifes who have “stepped off the path” because society has no place for them. Overhearing the tale of a surrogate mother selling her baby for a million dollars, they plot the “no-brains kinda operation” of a kidnapping. Where the story goes from there is anybody’s guess.

The less one grabs from the trailers and reviews of this film, the better. To reveal too much of the film’s set-up is already giving away half the bag of tricks. Part of the joy of The Way of the Gun is the manner in which the audience is allowed to fill in the blanks by themselves. Admittedly the middle hour is filled with enough exposition to drive a screenwriting teacher nuts, it’s the kind of revealed information where everything, yet nothing is said and you best be paying attention otherwise you may be lost to the motivation involved with each character.

When a film exudes so much energy and so much plot to keep up with, all the characters become MacGuffins, solely there to service the plot like an escort in Vegas. Lack of character definition prevents films like this from becoming true classics and national archive worthy, but it can never stop the fun. The Way of the Gun falls somewhere in between, as many of the characters are nicely drawn or the actors are just such a pleasure to watch. James Caan gets the richest performance (and character) as a true “survivor” who could kill Richard Hatch (the TV guy, not the Battlestar Galactica guy) just by looking at him. Taye Diggs and Nicky Katt make for a menacing pair of bodyguards. Juliette Lewis comes off as both innocent and manipulative. Benicio Del Toro is a pleasure to watch in anything, especially when playing a brand of clueless tough guy. Even Ryan Philippe is watchable here, even if he speaks with an accent that sounds like a mouthful of accent lessons. Who you root for here is really a flip of the coin. There are so many potential candidates for the good guys, that much like this year’s Presidential race, it comes down to a matter of picking the lesser of all evils. And the twists don’t come off as much as doublecrossing as to actually where everyone’s secret loyalties lie.

The Way of the Gun joins the long line of “modern westerns” that could have been filmed in the 60s by Sergio Leone or Sam Peckinpah. A lot of plotline and loyalty shifts bookended by some high-energy unlimited bullet shootouts. Great shootouts too. The initial kidnapping is a wonderfully executed piece of action resulting in even bringing some fresh air to your standard chase scene. Then the film’s climax, set in one of those great cliched little Mexican towns, has more guns and bullets than an NRA warehouse. The blood does flow pretty freely during these final moments, so weak stomachs beware. My iron-clad constitution remained intact and enjoyed every loud, violent, twisting minute of it.

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originally posted: 09/11/00 05:54:49
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User Comments

1/30/10 Dane Youssef Another worthwhile modern-day heist western. Enthralling, dirty and twisted. Worth seeing. 4 stars
2/13/07 Double M Fine acting, great dialogue, incredible shootouts. requires more than 1 viewing. 5 stars
8/07/05 Charlene Javier Could have been better. 2 stars
5/11/05 chris. wow...this could have been whole lot better, and should have been 3 stars
4/24/05 stu great film away from the 'xXx' type crap that hollywood usually has to offer as action. 5 stars
12/28/04 Archanist_101 Worthy only becuase of Christopher McQuarrie's talent & creativity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/10/04 greed-e one of my favorites, seems like a crimanal wrote it. 5 stars
6/05/04 y2mckay Caan, Del Toro, and some good shootouts are the saving graces 3 stars
9/28/03 Ingo Way cool. Nachos'n'beer required. 4 stars
5/17/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!) DISAPPOINTING coming from the creator of "Usual Suspects," but has some good action. 3 stars
4/30/03 Zel He punched the woman in the face and kissed the other woman! BRILLIANT! 5 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby Godawful, self-indulgent trash from the overrated McQuairre. Caan is only asset. 1 stars
5/25/02 Butterbean A mild, forgettable thriller that makes me moist for Taye Diggs. 3 stars
1/17/02 Danielle Wilson I love Benecio Del-Torro & Ryan Philippe 5 stars
10/04/01 Phoenix After the first scene, I knew it was going to be a good movie. Well done shoot-out scenes. 4 stars
6/02/01 Basil Benicio is so cool. 5 stars
5/09/01 Clarance Rollercoaster plot combined with gun slinging and the value of human life---Great movie! 4 stars
5/02/01 Sirius Sadie I should've liked it but I didn't 2 stars
4/08/01 R.W. Welch Pretty decent writing, but overdone shootouts. 4 stars
3/23/01 davebo a fun "who do i root for?" movie 4 stars
3/11/01 Bowser Very Bad 1 stars
3/11/01 luket shut that cunt up or i'll come fuck start her head 5 stars
2/21/01 T. Sharif One Hell Of A Movie 5 stars
2/05/01 Steve Ferris Now I'm gonna see Usual Suspects. 5 stars
9/27/00 The Rock Average all around 3 stars
9/22/00 Hollywood Hangover Fun and intriguing characters. Could've been better but still pretty good. 4 stars
9/20/00 Trikcobra Fucking sucks! 1 stars
9/18/00 Shery Anne This movie's deinately a sleeper. I took a nap for about 15 minutes during it. 1 stars
9/17/00 The Bomb 69 wasn't as violent as advertised, awesome anyway!!! 5 stars
9/17/00 JB Pretty interesting, but also very boringa at times. Watching a second time is recommended. 4 stars
9/13/00 Joltking What a killer movie! Plot flawless and gunplay incredible. 5 stars
9/13/00 PJ Holy shit, nitty gritty, Peckinpah would be proud, Del Torro and Cann are simply brilliant. 5 stars
9/13/00 Khaziel damned fine movie.....anything from McQuarrie is a great piece of work 5 stars
9/12/00 bison excellent experience. a bit murky at points, but awesome writing and direction. 5 stars
9/11/00 Hadlock Hedstrom a fresh looking movie that you and your guy friends can go see 5 stars
9/11/00 philiph Loved it! Ronin and the Ususal Suspects combined. 5 stars
9/11/00 finalfight great ending for a solid film ,some scenes hard to watch 4 stars
9/10/00 jonnyA nice 4 stars
9/10/00 frank if MCQUARRIE hadn't rushed it out, it could have been amazing. 4 stars
9/09/00 Billy Bone Fun to watch, but I didn't understand what it all meant. Great acting, cool guns 5 stars
9/09/00 Merripen Filth, filth, filth. Don't bother. 1 stars
8/14/00 monkey it was good but no jungle book 1 stars
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  08-Sep-2000 (R)


  17-May-2001 (MA)

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