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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 EricDSnider

"Darkly funny and violent, like Mom used to make."
4 stars

The first scene in "The Way of the Gun" has our two "heroes," Parker (Ryan Phillippe) and Longbaugh (Benicio Del Toro), outside a nightclub, non-chalantly sitting on a guy's car and setting the alarm off. When the guy, accompanied by his foul-mouthed girlfriend, yells at them to get off the car, a fight ensues. But Parker and Longbaugh go first for the one who provoked them the most, used the most profanity, and was just generally most deserving of a beating: the girlfriend.

While I certainly don't advocate violence toward women and think very little of a man who would hit one, this scene is outrageously funny, and indicative of the black-as-night humor and violence that will pervade the film.

It also warns us what our main characters are like: lawless, despicable petty thugs and occasional murderers who are not confined by such notions as "justice." That's one of the film's themes, in fact, that there's often no such thing as justice. Despite this harsh reality, we usually expect movies to show the bad guys being punished and the good guys winning. But as Parker says in a voice-over, "We didn't come for absolution. We didn't ask to be redeemed."

And besides, it's hard to punish the "bad guys" when everyone in the world has an ulterior motive.

While trying to make money as sperm donors ("Have you ever killed anyone?" and "Would you have sex with a dead person?" are two questions Longbaugh thinks should be asked), the two overhear an interesting fact: Rich businessman Hale Chidduck (Scott Wilson) is paying a girl named Robin (Juliette Lewis) a large sum of money in order to be surrogate mother to his child. Chidduck's trophy wife Francesca (Kristin Lehman) is perfectly capable of having one herself, but the socialite can't be bothered with such things.

Parker and Longbaugh (yeah, those were the real names of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, if that gives you any indication where this is going to wind up) hatch a plan. They'll kidnap the surrogate mother and hold her and her as-yet unborn baby for ransom. They get her away from her mildly competent bodyguards (Taye Diggs and Nicky Katt) in a hail of gunfire (one of several hails of gunfire in the movie) and head off toward Mexico.

It turns out to be an even better idea than they realized, as most of Chidduck's money is of the money-laundering variety, which means he can't involve the police in the negotiations.

Robin's doctor, Allen Painter (Dylan Kussman) is brought in to help deliver the baby, if necessary, but he's got secret reasons for being so interested. So does Chidduck's long-time bagman Sarno (James Caan); so do the bodyguards; heck, even Sarno's assistant Abner (Geoffrey Lewis) has secrets.

Phillippe and Del Toro are appropriately only sort of likable as the main characters, both acting their parts well, particularly Phillippe, with his swallowed, Stanley Kowalski-style delivery.

McQuarrie's directing is stylish but not stylized. That is, you can tell a good director was involved -- extended shots where the camera just sits there while people attempt suicide, talk, or kill each other -- but he doesn't draw attention to himself or his craft.

The plot is as delightfully twisted as the humor, but that "look how many plot twists I can come up with" method is occasionally to the film's detriment. Sometimes secrets are overheard by parties who shouldn't hear them -- and then nothing ever comes of it. Most of the loose ends are wrapped up, though, usually by way of a bullet, and while it's hard to feel anything resembling upliftment or happiness at the film, it's undeniably an adrenaline-pumped punch-in-the-face of a movie.

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originally posted: 07/07/03 12:39:27
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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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