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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 MP Bartley

"Bad people do bad things to each other - shrug, move on."
2 stars

If you're going to name your two main characters Parker and Longbaugh (the real life Bonnie and Clyde) you'd better have a damn good movie to back up your aspirations. Because Arthur Penn's tale had a serious message to impart behind the carnage, and while saying 'the way of the gun' is an update of 'live by the sword, die by the sword', may give you a cool saying, it also gives little clue to any intelligence rattling around upstairs.

Parker and Longbaugh (Ryan Phillipe and Benicio Del Toro) are lowlifes who decide to kidnap the pregnant Juliette Lewis and hold her for ransom, as she's holding the baby for a rich businessman. Said businessman then enlists the services of Taye Diggs, Nicky Katt and James Caan to get back the mother and baby whilst holding onto the baby.

Christopher McQuarrie, writing and directing here, clearly takes inspirations from the tough guy pictures of the 70's and 80's and re-routes them to the present day via his sewer-mouthed script.
However, although slavish inspiration may give you a good basis for a film, you really need to bring something else to the party and McQuarrie doesn't. Although it's a remarkably cynical and nasty script, this just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. There's no humour or warm humanity here beneath any characters to emphasise with. Juliette Lewis would seem to be the obvious candidate for affection and sympathy, but she's given little background and reduced to screaming in the scenery whilst bullets fly around her head. It smacks of manipulation to stick a pregnant women into a hostage situation. There's an attempt to engender interest about the identity of the fathers baby, but it feels forced in at an angle and never rings true.

Caan has played this role a hundred times before, but brings his usual battered charm to it, that suggests more to the character than the strictly two-dimensional script serves up. Diggs and Katt seem quite nasty as the heavys, but also seem quite vapid. The two leads also make it hard to find a centre to sympathise with. Their backgrounds are never explored (how did they get together? why are they in this situation?) and as such it's hard to feel for them when they're cornered like rats at the end. Phillipe scowls, pouts and strains in an effort to suggest depth and that we should take him seriously as a hard-man, but ultimately seems to be trying too hard. Del Toro fares much better however. Although he seems to be making little effort, he's always a pleasure to watch with his laidback approach and easy-going style.

Despite the lack of characters, I'm a sucker for a good shoot-out, and it's here that 'Way of the Gun' lives up to it's title. Summoning up the memories of 'Bonnie and Clyde', 'Heat' and 'The Wild Bunch' it's a blistering finale that while not living up to its influences, certainly makes it worth sitting through. But how much more effective would it have been if it had had characters involved that we actually cared about?

Taking notes from everyone's dropped jaws at the end of 'The Usual Suspects', McQuarrie tries to fashion a similarly intriguing and ambigious ending. He doesn't pull the trick off for a second time however and we instead have an ending that just limps to a bloody, half-arsed conclusion. So while it has a toughness and an uncompromising nasty edge to it, with a killer shootout, 'The Way of the Gun' is nothing more than a curio and a throwback to an earlier age.

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originally posted: 06/05/04 01:37:51
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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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